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Catalan President Carles Puigdemont attends a memorial event at the tomb of former president of the Generalitat, the regional government, Lluis Companys in Barcelona, Spain, October 15, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado


MADRID (Reuters) - Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Monday failed to clarify whether he had declared Catalonia's independence from Spain last week, paving the way for the central government to take control of the region and rule it directly.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had given him until Monday 10:00 a.m. local (0800 GMT) to clarify his position - and until Thursday to change his mind if he insists on a split - and said Madrid would suspend Catalonia's autonomy if he chooses independence.

In his letter to Rajoy, made public by local Catalan media, Puigdemont does not directly answer the question and says instead that the two should meet as soon as possible to open a dialogue over the next two months.

"Our offer for dialogue is sincere despite everything that has happened," Puigdemont says in the letter.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Paul Day)

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