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Scotland’s Salmond Invites Cameron, Clegg to Referendum Talks

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond invited Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister to Scotland for talks on a referendum on Scottish independence.

“We will be carrying out a consultation involving as many stakeholders as possible, including the U.K. government, in a consensual and constructive way,” Salmond said today in an e-mailed statement. “This meeting will provide an opportunity to seek clarity on the U.K. government’s perspective.”

The Scottish National Party administration and the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition are at odds over the timing of the referendum, what questions should be included in the ballot, who should be allowed to vote and who should supervise it. Salmond wants to hold the vote in the second half of 2014, while the U.K. government wants it earlier.

Salmond’s invitation to Cameron and Clegg to attend talks came after he said U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne “seems to think he owns” the pound.

Osborne refused to say yesterday whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to keep the currency, saying only in an interview with ITV News, that Salmond wants to join the euro. The ruling Scottish National Party said in 2009 it would join the euro when economic conditions are right, subject to a referendum.

“George Osborne has been Chancellor for 18 or 20 months, or so, but he seems to think he now owns sterling,” Salmond said in an interview with Dublin-based RTE Radio today. “The Bank of England was founded by a Scot. There were Scottish bank notes before the Bank of England was founded.”

“Many countries, as they’ve become independent from London over the years, have used sterling. Australia, for example, after they became independent, used sterling.”

The U.K. may not be able to stop Scotland using sterling if it became independent, the Scotsman said, citing unidentified Treasury officials. Banks in an independent Scotland might no longer be able to print their own banknotes, the paper said.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Bank of Scotland, a unit of Lloyds Banking Group Plc, and Clydesdale Bank, a unit of National Australia Bank Ltd. all have the right to print their own bank notes.

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