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Spanish foreign affairs minister Josep Borrell has said that the country's ambassadors "have orders" to respond to any official events Catalan president Quim Torra may hold abroad.

In Malta this Friday, Borrell said that his ambassadors will respond every time Torra "goes around the world denigrating Spain". "It's obvious that they'll reply, they've got to do so, it's their job and what's more they've got specific instructions," he said.

The minister was replying to a tweet from Torra following his visit this week to the US:

Translation of Torra's tweet, responding to this tweet from Borrell: "I explained to [the US officials I met with] that there are political prisoners and exiles in Spain, and that the path towards the liberty of Catalonia, your country, Mr Borrell, is irreversible. I've also apologised to them for the visits that the Spanish ambassador will so kindly pay them from today."

Borrell said that "Mr Torra has to know that when he's explaining to the United States that Spain is a country where there are no freedoms, a Francoist country, with political prisoners and exiles, he's describing a Spain that isn't the real one".

The president added that if Torra travels around the world presenting Spain "as if it were still the Francoist Spain, Spanish diplomats, who are there to attend to him as the official of the Spanish state he is, even if he doesn't want to be, they will respond to him, because that's their duty".

In practice

Indeed, just this week we saw a Spanish consul responding to a speech by Torra, namely one he gave to the Martin Luther King Jr Institute at Stanford University. The consul to San Francisco, Diego Muñiz, parroted the Spanish government line on being unable to offer Catalonia a referendum and them being willing to talk, within certain conditions.

The consul's level of English, however, was questioned and even mocked by many online.