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Spain's king uses Christmas Eve speech to address Catalonia's new leaders

 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press
Spain's King Felipe VI delivers his traditional Christmas address on Dec. 23, 2017.Andres Ballesteros / Pool via Reuters

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MADRID — King Felipe VI used his traditional Christmas Eve address Sunday night to call on Catalonia's newly elected parliament to renounce further moves toward secession from Spain.

"The way forward cannot once again lead to confrontation or exclusion that, as we now know, only generates discord, uncertainty, anguish," the Spanish monarch said in a televised speech.

The king gave the address four days after regional parliamentary elections resulted in separatist parties being voted back into power. Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, had dissolved the previous parliament after it voted in October to declare Catalonia an independent republic, but saw his hopes dashed that separatists would not regain a majority of seats.

Spain's King Felipe VI delivers his traditional Christmas address on Dec. 23, 2017.Andres Ballesteros / Pool via Reuters

"2017 for Spain has been, without a doubt, a difficult year for our commonwealth, a year marked, above all, by the situation in Catalonia," Felipe said. "(Catalonia's) leaders must face the problems that affect all Catalans, respecting their diversity and thinking responsibly in the common good."

Related: Catalan separatists win majority in election, in rebuke to Spain and EU

The king's last televised address was on Oct. 3, two days after Catalonia's regional government disobeyed a court injunction and held a referendum on secession. The king harshly criticized the Catalan government as disloyal.

His tone was more conciliatory on Sunday, when he recognized that while Spain had grown into a fully integrated member of the European Union, "not everything was a success" in recent decades.

He insisted on recovering the "harmonious coexistence at the heart of Catalan society, in all its diversity, so that ideas don't divide or separate families and friends."

People react to results in Catalonia's regional elections at a gathering of the Catalan National Assembly in Barcelona, Spain Dec. 21, 2017.Albert Gea / Reuters

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