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The governments of Spain and Catalonia are negotiating the possibility of holding a bilateral meeting this Thursday, on the eve of the Spanish cabinet meeting in Barcelona. "There's no definitive decision, but progress is being made towards a bilateral meeting between the governments," Catalan government sources say.

This meeting would involve the heads of the two governments, Quim Torra and Pedro Sánchez, their deputies, Pere Aragonès and Carme Calvo, and two further ministers from each side. From Catalonia, those would be the presidency minister, Elsa Artadi, and the justice minister, Ester Capella.

The agenda of the topics to be discussed won't be set until the meeting is agreed, the sources say.

Problems blocking such a meeting were worked on this Monday with a meeting between Aragonès, Artadi and Calvo in the VIP room at Barcelona's Sants station. It was organised to take advantage of the deputy prime minister's return to Madrid from Valencia where she had attended an event at the city's university. It lasted two hours, from 6pm, until Calvo caught the AVE high-speed train back to the Spanish capital.

The Catalan government has been clear for weeks that it wants a summit between more than just the two heads of government. The Spanish government, however, was insisting on a formal meeting between Sánchez and Torra, like the one Sánchez held with the president of Andalusia in Seville in October on the occasion of another cabinet meeting.

Monday's meeting worked through this difficulty, although the next suggestion of a meeting with three from each side was haggled up further by the Catalan side to four and four.

Madrid wants to use the meeting to defuse the atmosphere ahead of its cabinet meeting in Barcelona on Friday. Both the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural have organised events to coincide with the meeting, for which Barcelona is to see a large police deployment.

Thursday night will also see ministers attend the dinner organised by business association Foment de Treball to award its annual prizes. From the Catalan government, it's expected that Aragonès will attend, along with ministers Chakir El Homrani and Àngels Chacon. It was revealed today that Spanish king Felipe VI won't attend this year. He had normally done so in the past, but didn't last year, just before the election to the Catalan Parliament.

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