PM Sanchez. | ALBERT GEA


The Spanish government plans to pardon the nine jailed leaders of Catalonia's failed 2017 independence bid tomorrow, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said this morning.

With the pardons that the cabinet still has to rubber-stamp in its weekly meeting, Sanchez aims to ease tensions in the northeastern region and kick-start negotiations between the central government and Catalan authorities.

"Confrontation didn't serve to solve any problem," Sanchez said in speech at Barcelona's iconic opera house in an event attended by around 300 members of the Catalan civil society.

"To reach an agreement someone must make the first step," he said. "The Spanish government will make that first step now."

Opinion polls show about 60% of Spaniards - as well as all opposition parties - are against freeing the nine politicians and activists who were jailed in 2019 for their role in the chaotic and at times violent events that triggered Spain's biggest political crisis in decades.