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The government of Catalonia and that of the province of Buenos Aires have signed an agreement this Thursday to strengthen bonds between the two territories as "strategic partners". The agreement was formalised in La Plata, the capital of the province, by the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, and the governor of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicillof, one of the heavyweights of Kirchnerism. During the press conference, an Argentinian journalist asked Aragonès about the return of president-in-exile Carles Puigdemont. "We hope that he will soon be able to return to Catalonia as a free citizen, as we wish for all the exiles, who are still unable to come back to Catalonia for political reasons," Aragonès said.

In the joint meeting with Kicillof, Aragonès explained that his Generalitat government is working to resolve the political conflict through dialogue with the Spanish state. "This includes not only the people affected by legal proceedings related to the 1st October who reside in Catalonia, but also those who reside abroad - obviously Puigdemont - to whom again I send all solidarity and support, which is important at this time, in that also through his legal strategy he is having to deal with the decisions of the European courts", he replied, referring to the procedure opened at the European Court of Justice.

No institutional position

For his part, the governor of Buenos Aires avoided commenting on the Catalan demand for a referendum, or on the judicial persecution of pro-independence supporters, which in one of the questions was compared to the prosecution of the Argentinian vice-president, Cristina Kirchner. Kicillof, who do not show any interest in commenting on the situation of the leader of his party, limited himself to noting that these subjects had not been touched upon in the conversation: "Subjects on which there is no institutional position by the province of Buenos Aires, beyond personal considerations, and I would not want to do so in an institutional sense".

In any case, he did make it clear that his will is to seek "the closest link with Spain and now a special link with Catalonia and its people".

Twinning with Catalonia

The province of Buenos Aires is not the same as the city of Buenos Aires. The city is politically independent from the province, which has La Plata as its capital. It is the economic engine of the country, and the government of Catalonia proposes to "weave equal relations that allow building alliances on both sides of the Atlantic".

Kicillof has expressed his confidence that, once the agreements signed today are implemented, progress can be made in the institutional figure of twinning, which, as he indicated, is very important for Buenos Aires.

Nine-day tour of South America

The Catalan president Pere Aragonès is on Argentina as part of a nine-day trip to Latin America which began last Sunday, where he is accompanied by foreign action minister Meritxell Serret. His first stop was Colombia. On Wednesday, he was in Uruguay, where among his visits he met and spoke to former president José Mujica. After Argentina, he will travel on to Chile.