Spanish PM says aid request not imminent

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday a request for European aid was not imminent following a report the country could apply for help as soon as this weekend.

Rajoy made the comments after meeting in Madrid with the 17 leaders of Spain's regions.

European officials told Reuters late on Monday that Spain was ready as early as next weekend to ask the euro zone and the European Central Bank to start buying its bonds, but Germany had signaled it should hold off.

"If a news agency reports that we'll ask for aid this weekend, there can only be two explanations; that the agency is right, and knows more than I do, which is possible, or that they are not right," Rajoy said with a smile when asked about the Reuters' report.

"But, if it helps, and you accept that what I say is more important than this leak, I say no (we won't ask for aid this weekend.)"

Spain is the current focus of investor attention as Rajoy struggles to deflate one of the euro zone's largest public deficits while the country sinks deeper into its second recession in three years.

The premium Spain pays on its benchmark 10-year bond eased on Tuesday as investors focused on signs Madrid may be open to asking for help. The Treasury faces a new test of investor appetite on Thursday when it issues bonds maturing 2014, 2015 and 2017.

(Reporting By Sarah Morris and Robert Hetz; Editing by Tracy Rucinski, Stephen Nisbet)