September 15, 2014 / 5:18 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. says respects Scots' views but prefers U.K. remain intact

A backpacker walks past a "Yes" campaign placard at Leverburgh harbour on the Isle of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House weighed in carefully on Monday on the Scottish independence referendum, saying Washington would respect the outcome of the vote but would prefer the United Kingdom to remain “strong, robust and united.”

Scots vote on Thursday on whether to split from the United Kingdom or become an independent country. A variety of experts say Washington would rather avoid the disruption to NATO defences that forming a separate Scottish military would bring.

Scottish membership in the Western alliance is not a foregone conclusion because other members, particularly states such as Spain with their own separatist worries, could block it.

President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, Josh Earnest, chose his words with care when asked to comment on prospects of Scottish independence.

“This is a decision for the people of Scotland to make,” the spokesman said. “We certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision ... along these lines. But, you know, as the president himself said, we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner.”

Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Grant McCool

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