After nearly two years central and Catalan governments picked up talks again on Wednesday.

Current Spanish acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalan the new premier Carles Puigdemont met in Madrid met for discussions, but came away without very littleBoth men are fundamentally opposed over the Catalan nationalists’ desire to hold a referendum on self-rule, which Madrid still considers illegal.“Without law, there is no democracy,” said Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP), echoing a position he has long held. Puigdemont was not in the least surprised  “It is no surprise to say that there was no agreement. I didn’t expect any other kind of reaction, because we are separated by an abyss,” said Puigdemont, who took over formt eh long standing Artur Mas.

Mas had maintained a similar verbal confrontation with Rajoy during his own term in office, which was marked by an informal independence referendum held on November 9, 2014 which was very grey in the results .Rajoy actually  held his last meeting with Mas in late July 2014 which after all contact was severed after that, and the Catalan premier, who had held moderately nationalist views, fully embraced the independence movement from that point onward.

On Wednesday, Rajoy and Puigdmont chatted for more than two hours and after , Rajoy also gave a press conference afterwards, something he had not done for over a month in which the dialogue appeared positive and looking to “work together”.However the long standing and enduring differences between both men were still evidentWe support the idea that Catalonia is part of Spain and, like the vast majority of Spaniards, we feel this way and wish for us to stay together,” said Rajoy. “We are going to defend this political and personal position.”Puigdemont, for his part, handed Rajoy a document with 46 demands, twice as many as Mas had brought to Madrid in July 2014. He insisted that he plans to take Catalonia “to the doors of independence,” but left room for dialogue.“We will never walk away from the table, and if during this journey toward independence the government feels that it has an offer to negotiate the referendum, we will listen; we are ready to talk.”

Although the Catalan premier admitted that Rajoy had “listened” to all his proposals, but added that he sees “no possibility of an agreement – we stand at opposite extremes, and I expected no other reaction.”

Despite the lack of agreement, both leaders suggested a meeting of their deputies to analyze other issues, including how to deal with the refugee crisis, new regional financing rules, and investment in infrastructure