NICOLA Sturgeon has defended her first trip to the United States in three years after opposition sniping that it is a wasteful ‘indy tour’.

The First Minister said the SNP’s opponents had sought to “deligitimise” the two-day visit to Washington DC.

But promoting Scotland overseas was simply “part of the job” for every government.

Ms Sturgeon made the comments in an article for the Times ahead of a speech about energy security to the Brookings Institution in the US capitol later today,

She is also due to meet business and congressional leaders in the city. 

It is understood the Scottish Government has reached out to the Biden administration in the hope of a meeting with once of its senior members, but nothing has been confirmed.

The Scottish Tories last week claimed the “indy tour” was more about promoting  the SNP’s independence goal at the taxpayers’ expense and accused Ms Sturgeon of ignoring her domestic problems to grandstand overseas.

But Ms Sturgeon, who has said she wants Indyref2 next year, said overseas visits were a standard part of government business, whoever was in power.

She wrote: “The SNP’s opponents try to delegitimise the Scottish government’s international engagement. 

“But the reality is that Scottish ministers have been making international visits like this since the start of the devolution era, long before my party took office. 

“Promoting our country overseas should, quite simply, be seen as part of the job for whoever the government of the day happens to be.”

However she added: “My own hope, of course, is that in times to come Scotland will be representing itself on the global stage as an independent country, but that, ultimately, will be a matter for the people of Scotland.”

Elsewhere in the column, Ms Sturgeon said the “pandemic, the climate crisis and Russia’s brutal illegal invasion of Ukraine” had all strengthened the need for international co-operation and concerted action.

She added: “Scotland must be part of that co-operation and, whatever our constitutional future, that is why visits like this one matter.”

In her Brookings speech, the First Minister is expected to say that missing climate change targets agreed at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow would be “catastrophic”

She will urge other nations to ensure the strains placed on the international order by the conflict in Ukraine do not result in the promises made at Cop being broken.