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The leader of Catalonia postponed a formal declaration of independence from Spain on Tuesday, stepping back from the brink of a constitutional crisis that has engulfed one of Europe's richest nations, BBC reported.

Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan President, declared that the region had "earned the right" to independence from Madrid. But he told the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona that he wanted to take the heat out of the political standoff that has roiled Spain since a disputed referendum on October 1.

The Catalan president said that millions of Catalan citizens believe the region should have its own state in his highly anticipated speech, explaining that the region had won the right to be an independent republic.

"I defend the mandate of the people of Catalonia to become an independent republic," he said, to applause from the chamber.

But he added that parliament should suspend a formal declaration in order to pursue dialogue. He did not specify what form the talks would take, or who would mediate them.

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