Nicola Sturgeon is heading to the States to promote the SNP government’s global interests, in a trip Tories branded an “indy tour”.
The first minister wants to set out the “values, principles and priorities” of Scotland’s international work, reflecting on the impacts of Brexit, coronavirus, the climate emergency and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ms Sturgeon will meet congressional groups and make a keynote speech at Brookings Institution in Washington DC.
In a statement, she said the government’s activities abroad helps to “create opportunities at home” and attract high-quality investment to Scotland.
She also wants to build on Scotland’s “long-standing relationship and strong trade ties”.
It comes as Ms Sturgeon prepares to refresh the “very positive case” for independence following council election results in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The first minister praised an increase in SNP representation at local government, and has reflected on Sinn Fein winning 27 out of 90 seats at last week’s Stormont election.
She said: “I think there’s a growing sense that the UK in its current state is not serving the needs of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or perhaps even England appropriately.
“And I think we will see big changes in the years to come and I’m convinced one of those changes will be Scottish independence.”
Ms Sturgeon has promised to hold a referendum in 2023, but recent polls by Survation and Panelbase have found most people in Scotland don’t want this to happen.
Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said the first minister should not be taking her party’s “obsession” with independence on tour.
Mr Cameron said: “Just a few days after the local elections and Nicola Sturgeon has already abandoned local issues to get 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 taxpayers’ 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.”