SCOTLAND'S First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today urge business leaders to unite around the message that Scotland remains open for business following the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Ms Sturgeon will meet six key business organisations at her Bute House residence to "map out a united response" to protect Scotland's interests after its citizens were outvoted by those who wanted to leave the EU.

The First Minister has also invited Scottish consuls from all 27 remaining European Union member states to Bute House to discuss Scotland's future in the EU.

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She will urge the consuls to work with her to protect Scotland's interests in the EU, and secure an "absolute guarantee" from the UK Government that EU citizens in Scotland have a secure future.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, she said: "I have already written to the Prime Minister and the potential candidates to succeed him, calling for that assurance to be made without delay - and that is just one of the issues I will be discussing with consuls and diplomats at today's summit.

"I will also be making the case more widely that the Scottish Government is determined to explore every possible avenue to protect and maintain Scotland's EU status.

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"My visit to Brussels last week was an important first stage in that process - and I found a great deal of understanding there for the situation Scotland has been placed in.

"We are faced with a decision that this country did not take or want, and we must now respond to something not of our making.

"But all options to protect Scotland's place in Europe are on the table and will remain there."

Mr Sturgeon will meet heads of the Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Scottish Financial Enterprise and Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

"Scotland's economy is fundamentally strong, but continued EU membership and our place in the world's biggest single market is absolutely vital when it comes to protecting jobs, investment and long-term-prosperity.

"Clearly there is now uncertainty for business, so we need to protect Scotland from that as much as possible.

"Today's meeting with leading business organisations is a vital step in that process, as Scotland's business community has a great deal to play in this - by coming together today they can start to map out a united response, which will be crucial in protecting Scotland's interests."

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "They key message I and other ministers have been relaying is that we are still firmly in the EU and business and trade should continue as normal. On that front, nothing has changed.

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"We know that Scotland is an attractive place to do business and we continue to be open for business with European partners and further afield.

"What we'll be discussing with business leaders is how we preserve and strengthen those links, and what steps we can collectively take to ensure Scotland's strong economic position is maintained."