BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is meeting with the separatist leader of Catalonia in a bid to improve the strained relations between the central government and Spain’s restive northeast.

No major breakthrough is expected from Thursday's meeting with both sides starting from distant positions on the divisive issue of Catalonia's independence from the rest of Spain.

Catalan regional president Quim Torra had said before the meeting at the Catalan government seat in downtown Barcelona that he would insist on Sánchez allowing a legal referendum on secession for the wealthy region.

Sánchez’s government has said that a referendum was out of the question since it would violate the Spanish Constitution. Sánchez will try to steer the talk to social issues, financing for Spain’s regions and the impact of recent storms in eastern Spain.

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