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The New Zealand Herald - - WORLD BRIEFING -

More than 700 may­ors from Cat­alo­nia met in Barcelona in a show of strength amid pres­sure from Spain’s cen­tral Gov­ern­ment not to hold an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum for the north­east­ern re­gion. Po­lit­i­cal ten­sions in Spain are in­creas­ing as the pro­posed vot­ing date of Oc­to­ber 1 nears. The Cata­lan Gov­ern­ment has been scram­bling to push for­ward the vote, de­spite the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s warn­ings that lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are not al­lowed to use pub­lic build­ings for it and may­ors can be legally pros­e­cuted for it.

A Nato of­fi­cial says there’s rea­son to be con­cerned about the large-scale Za­pad 2017 mil­i­tary ma­neou­vers be­ing con­ducted now by Rus­sia and Be­larus, since they could be seen as “a se­ri­ous prepa­ra­tion for big war”. Gen­eral Petr Pavel, head of Nato’s Mil­i­tary Com­mit­tee, said that Nato is in­creas­ing ef­forts to re-es­tab­lish mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Rus­sia to avoid any “un­in­tended con­se­quences of po­ten­tial in­ci­dents dur­ing the ex­er­cise”. The war games run un­til Septem­ber 20 and in­volve 5500 Rus­sian and 7200 Be­laru­sian troops.

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