NICOLA Sturgeon says Scotland will always have a “positive and long-standing” relationship with the US as she prepares to meet American Government chiefs later today.
It is the first time since the release of the Lockerbie bomber that a Scottish leader has secured “face time” with senior Washington figures and the SNP leader insisted Scotland must have a “voice on the international stage.”
Ms Sturgeon is in the US capital today as part of a four-day US trip and will meet Deputy Under Secretary of State Tony Blinken for talks on food and nutrition.
She will later address the World Bank and hold talks with International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde.
Alex Salmond’s last two visits to the US as First Minister followed of the Scottish Government’s release of Libyan Abdelbaset Al Megrahi - the man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie which resulted in 189 American deaths. Mr Salmond did not meet with the US Government on either of these visits.
Ms Sturgeon told BBC Radio Scotland: “I’m very keen that we have a very positive relationship with the US, not just government to government, but that our business relationship is good, that we continue to attract investors from the US and that we do very well in that respect.
“Scotland has a long standing and positive relationship with the US, people of Scottish descent live here and people of American descent live in Scotland.
“So the relationship between the two countries will always be positive and strong.”
The SNP has been a vocal opponent of the US-led invasion of Iraq and is against Trident nuclear weapons, but Ms Sturgeon rejected claims of hostility towards the world power.
“There’s nothing about Scotland or the Scottish Government or the SNP that is anti-American in any way shape or form,” she added.
“The links between our countries are too long standing and too strong for that.
“The SNP have a long-standing and principled opposition to Trident. If people in America don’t agree with that and many people will not agree with that - although I’m sure many people do agree - I hope they will respect the principled position that we take.”
She added; “We want to be a partner with the US. Scotland is not an independent country but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to have a voice in the international stage because it’s good for our economy and good for investment among other reasons.”