US wants 'strong, robust, united' UK: White House

15th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

The United States stepped into Scotland's knife-edge independence debate on Monday, indicating that it hoped that its "special relationship" ally Britain would remain "united."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest stressed that Washington respected the right of Scots to decide their future in Thursday's referendum but hoped for a "strong, robust and united" partner.

The carefully nuanced comments mirrored those by President Barack Obama as he stood side-by-side with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Brussels earlier this year.

But, coming three days before Scotland votes on whether to end the 300-year-old union with the rest of the United Kingdom, the remarks hint at US concern at a weakening of its key NATO and U N Security Council ally.

"This is a decision for the people of Scotland to make," Earnest said.

"We certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision along these lines," he added.

"But ... we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner."

Earnest would not be drawn on what it would mean for US foreign policy if Britain was weakened on the international stage or within NATO and the UN Security Council by the departure of Scotland.

"We are confident that ultimately the people of Scotland will make a decision that they believe is in their best interest," Earnest said.

"The president himself articulated what he believed was important about our partners over there (in) the United Kingdom."

Officials have not gone into detail about how Washington's interests could be affected by the splintering of the United Kingdom.

But the Scottish government has said it will take steps to negotiate the departure from its soil of the nuclear submarine base at Faslane, home to Britain's independent nuclear deterrent.

That would leave the British government with the decision on whether to maintain and relocate the costly system or to rely directly on the US nuclear umbrella.

US submarines in the past have also visited the Faslane base, which sits on the Firth of Clyde in the West of Scotland.

A diminished Britain could also see its contributions to NATO drop -- at a time of rising tensions in Western Europe -- and could also see its position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, where it is a close ally of the United States, questioned.

© 2014 AFP

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