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Cameron and Salmond set for talks

David Cameron is to meet Alex Salmond to discuss plans for a referendum on Scottish independence, it has been announced.

Downing Street said arrangements for the meeting between the Prime Minister and Scottish First Minister would be made "in the coming days".

With the UK Government and the Scottish National Party's Holyrood administration at loggerheads over the details of a referendum, Mr Salmond called on Friday for talks with Mr Cameron. Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has in turn asked Mr Salmond for a meeting in Edinburgh this Thursday - an invitation that has not been accepted so far.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has made it clear he is happy to meet Alex Salmond and arrangements for that will be made in the coming days. However, he also believes the First Minister should accept the invitation to meet the Secretary of State for Scotland on Thursday to discuss his views on the consultation process."

Mr Cameron and Mr Salmond will discuss the UK Government's consultation on the legality of an independence referendum. That, and ministers' calls for the Scottish Government to name the date of the referendum, has led to angry exchanges between Westminster and Holyrood over the past week.

Mr Salmond has claimed he has unsuccessfully sought meetings with Mr Cameron on six occasions in the past. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will also now be meeting the Scottish First Minister.

He said the meetings would have to be after he has updated the Scottish Parliament next Wednesday on the SNP's consultation on referendum arrangements.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "We believe it is to everyone's benefit that these meetings are informed by the published consultation documents of both the UK and Scottish governments, so that Mr Moore, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg can see what our proposals are - and we look forward to the meetings taking place."

Mr Cameron has said he wants a referendum "as soon as possible", but Mr Salmond has announced his preferred timing to be autumn 2014. There are also disagreements on the questioning, with Westminster preferring a straightforward yes or no to independence and the SNP wanting to offer an additional option of further devolution, so called "devo max".

The UK Government also insists the Scottish Government does not have the power in its constitution to hold a binding referendum.


From Belfast Telegraph