JAILED Jordi Sanchez, who has been on hunger strike for 17 days, has called for dialogue between the Catalan and Spanish governments when they meet later this week.

In a letter to Catalonia Radio, Sanchez, who heads the Together for Catalonia (JxCat) group in the Catalan Parliament, urged President Quim Torra, his number two, Pere Aragonès and government spokesperson, Elsa Artadi, to meet Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez when he and his council of ministers gather in Barcelona on Friday. He said: “In politics, the routes of dialogue are always necessary, especially in the moments of maximum discrepancy and tension.

“Dialogue can never be considered as an expression of weakness, such as a loss of time and even less as a betrayal of what principles and loyalties are not known. It is necessary to appeal to Pedro Sanchez and his government to put leadership in the service of dialogue and to seek solutions.”

The letter from Sanchez came as a new poll showed that a large majority of Catalans favour an independence referendum held in agreement with Spain.

Support was 80.4%, above the threshold of 75% demanded by the Spanish PM last week when he suggested the move did not have enough support, according to the poll in the Ara newspaper. Most pro-indy supporters (97%) and unionists (61%), voted for a referendum, with 71% of supporters of Sanchez’s Socialist party and some from the People’s (23.7%) and Citizens’ (34.4%) parties.