NICOLA Sturgeon is to visit the United States next week as she promotes her Government's thinking on international affairs ahead of her planned independence referendum.

The First Minister will meet business leaders and politicians to underline “Scotland’s key interests in global issues”.

Critics accused her of using public money to "grandstand about separation" and neglecting domestic problems to "take the SNP’s obsession on tour”.

The Scottish Government today published a Global Affairs Framework setting out the “values, principles and priorities” behind its work “to become more active internationally”.

It says Scotland will focus on “global citizenship, maintaining close relations with the EU, gender equality, and respect for human rights”.

The Framework also covers Ms Sturgeon's plans for independence.

It says: “The principles of this Global Affairs Framework will apply regardless of Scotland’s constitutional position but clearly the contribution that Scotland could make, and the benefits it could receive, would be significantly enhanced with the powers of independence rather than devolution.

“The Scottish Government’s prospectus for enhanced international relations as an independent state will be published in the run-up to the independence referendum.”

It also states an independent Scotland would return to the EU, but does not say if this would be done through a second EU referendum.

It says: “We believe that rejoining the EU at the earliest opportunity as an independent country represents the best future for Scotland.

"In the meantime, we will maintain alignment where possible and practical with EU legislation, standards, policies and programmes.”

The Framework also attacks “the UK Government’s disastrous and chaotic Brexit”, and reflects on the impacts of Covid, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine.

It does not mention the SNP's desire to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland after independence, potentially disarming one of the three Nato nuclear powers.

Ms Sturgeon has said she wants to hold Indyref2 next year, but Boris Johnson has refused to give Holyrood the power to do so.

The First Minister has said she will put a Referendum Bill through Holyrood regardless, but it is almost certain to be challenged at the UK Supreme Court and probably overturned.

The Scottish Government said Ms Sturgeon would take part in “a range of engagements focused on the interlinked issues of climate, energy security and the war in Ukraine” in America, “including a keynote speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC”. 

She will also meet US Congressional groups and “discuss ways to create a greener, fairer and more equitable economy with executives of companies operating across the Atlantic”.

She said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and the climate and biodiversity emergencies prove in the starkest possible way that we live in an interconnected world and it is more important than ever that Scotland plays its part. The crisis in Ukraine underlines how interconnected these challenges are, and all countries have a role to play in meeting them.

“We are determined that Scotland continues to be a good global citizen, making a constructive contribution to addressing global challenges such as climate change.

“Our international activity creates opportunities at home, broadens our horizons, attracts high-quality investment and ultimately benefits our people - no more evident than in Scotland’s long standing relationship and strong trade ties with the USA, which this visit will build upon further.

“By being open and connected and making a positive contribution internationally, we give ourselves the greatest possible chance of building a successful country. In this way we can make a contribution to the world that is welcomed, valued and helps us all.”

Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: “Just a few days after the local elections and Nicola Sturgeon has already abandoned local issues to jet off on an ‘indy tour’ to the United States.

“The vast majority of Scots don’t want a referendum on Nicola Sturgeon’s timeline, yet instead of focusing on the issues Scots really care about the First Minister would rather promote independence abroad at the taxpayer’s expense.

“The Scottish public will be outraged to see the First Minister taking her eye off the ball so soon after local elections – not to mention furious at this waste of taxpayer money in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

“Nicola Sturgeon should be focusing on tackling her government’s woeful record here at home, instead of taking the SNP’s obsession with independence on tour.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “As part of the UK we are members of the G7 and the UN Security Council, which would both be lost if we break up the UK.

“Our global influence would be dramatically diminished, jeopardising our efforts to promote peace and tackle climate change.

“And even though many of us still wish we were in the EU, the fact is that our trade with the rest of the UK is worth more than every country in the EU combined.

“Nicola Sturgeon should not use her foreign trips to grandstand about separation, which is supported by a minority of people in Scotland.”