Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Catalonia regional leader Quim Torra met Wednesday to begin dialogue to end secessionist-related violence in Spain, which has stemmed from previous Catalan attempts at independence.
When he was elected to office, Sanchez promised to hold talks on the subject -- which has been a divisive one in Spain and its autonomous Catalonia region since a formal effort to secede in 2017.
Since the move failed, top Catalan politicians have been imprisoned or went into self-imposed exile. Many aren't optimistic Wednesday's discussions will change anything, as Catalan self-determination wasn't on the official agenda. Others, however, see the talks as a key first step.
"This isn't the start of a long road, it's the start of a very long one -- but the important thing is both the nature of the talks and that they are happening at all," Spanish political analyst Germa Capdevila told Al Jazeera Wednesday.
"But this is a major political conflict which has been going on for a very long time. Nobody should expect that in a couple of meetings, it all gets resolved. What's more encouraging is a willingness to negotiate that we've never seen before."
Regional election campaigns have begun in Catalonia, where Torra's Junts per Catalunya Party is looking to make gains against the Republican ERC Party.