Spain's deputy prime minister on Wednesday rejected claims by Catalan separatists that the Madrid government's decision to hold a cabinet meeting in Barcelona is a provocation.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will hold its weekly cabinet meeting on Friday in Barcelona, the capital of the wealthy northeastern region.
But that is a year to the day Madrid held snap elections in the region after blocking the region's move for independence.
Pro-independence groups in Catalonia have called on their supporters to protest the meeting on the streets of Barcelona Friday, and police have already made plans to boost their presence there.
"To come on that day is a provocation," jailed separatist leader Jordi Turull told AFP in an interview Monday.
But Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo insisted Wednesday the cabinet meeting "was not a provocation". It would be held "in a situation of normality", she said.
In October 2017, Catalan leaders pushed ahead with a controversial independence referendum despite warnings from Madrid, then declared independence on the basis of the results.
The then conservative Spanish government responded by deposing the Catalan executive, dissolving the regional parliament and calling snap elections for December 21.
A number of Catalan separatist groups have called for street protests.
"On December 21, we will be...ungovernable," a radical grass-roots group, the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs), said on Twitter Wednesday.
"Lets topple the regime," said the tweet, accompanied by a picture of Spain's King Felipe VI on fire. Calvo said she would meet Thursday with the head of the Catalan regional government, Quim Torra. She would also hold talks with Catalonia's vice president, Pere Aragones.
Sanchez's six-month-old Socialist government held a cabinet meeting in the southern city of Seville in October.
It plans to hold another in the western region of Extremadura, in what it says is an effort to bring the executive closer to voters.
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