NICOLA Sturgeon has announced talks with the Scottish Greens that may see MSPs from the smaller pro-independence party join the Government.

The First Minister made public the development as she set out to Holyrood her priorities for the new term of parliament including for the coming months.

In the immediate aftermath of the election a coalition between the two parties was ruled out.

But the move announced today could see a more relationship short of a coalition be formed at some future point which Sturgeon described as "groundbreaking".

The SNP secured 64 MSPs and the opposition 64 after the Green MSP Alison Johnstone was elected Presiding Officer.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon tells Holyrood Scotland will have new referendum

"Since the election, I have had a series of exploratory discussions with the Scottish Green Party about how we might work together more formally in future," she said.

"Initially - even though we were not negotiating a coalition - these discussions were supported through the formation of government facility available to all parties during and immediately after an election. 

"And since the new government was appointed last week, the discussions have been supported by the civil service at my direction." 

She added: "I am pleased to advise Parliament that at a meeting in Bute House last night, I agreed with the Scottish Green Party that we will now move these informal discussions to the next stage. 

"I can confirm that the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party will enter structured talks, supported by the civil service, with a view to reaching - if we can - a formal Cooperation Agreement.

"Exactly what the content, extent and scope of any Agreement will be is what the talks will focus on."

She added: "What we hope to achieve is potentially groundbreaking. In the coming weeks, we will seek to agree specific policy areas in which we would formally co-operate and, within each, identify the shared objectives and policy initiatives we would be agreeing to work together on.

"I am confident these policy areas will include the climate emergency and how we can accelerate Scotland’s progress to net zero."

She said both parties were keen to identify other issues potentially where co-operation would be more "challenging" and that no limits were being set.

"So in that vein let me be clear that while this is not a guaranteed or pre-agreed outcome, it is not inconceivable that a Cooperation Agreement could lead in future to a Green minister or ministers being part of this government," she said.

"The key point for today is that we are both agreeing to come out of our comfort zones to find new ways of working for the common good.

"To change the dynamic of our politics for the better, and give meaning to the founding principles of our parliament.

"What we are embarking on will require compromise on both sides - but it will also require us to be bold."

She added: "It is perhaps worth noting that neither the Scottish Green Party nor the SNP government are doing this because we need to. 

"It is not being forced upon us by Parliamentary arithmetic. Indeed, we are taking a risk that the talks won’t succeed. 

"But we are prepared to do so because if we do succeed, the benefits to the country could be significant."

And she told MSPs there will be a second independence referendum during the current parliament.

"The election result has delivered a substantial majority in this Parliament for an independence referendum within the current term.

"There can be no justification for the UK Government seeking to block that mandate. To do so would suggest that the Tories no longer consider the UK to be a voluntary union of nations. And it would be profoundly undemocratic."

She announced that the Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who she appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, will today convene the first meeting of the new cross-party steering group on Covid Recovery.

The First Minister set out her government's priority actions, listed among them to:

  • Implement a 4% average pay increase this year for NHS staff. 
  • Open the first 3 rapid diagnostic centres for cancer. 
  • Increase spending on NHS by 20%,
  • Increase direct investment in mental health services by 25% over the course of the Parliament.
  • Take Action on drugs deaths
  • Begin the consultation on legislation to establish a National Care Service. 
  • Continue to work to close the school attainment gap. 
  • Publish the OECD’s report on Scottish education, and start to implement its recommendations.
  • Fund councils for the first phase of our commitment to recruit 3,500 more teachers and classroom assistants.

She also unveiled plans to work closer and in a more formal way with the Greens.
"In less than six months, Glasgow is due to host COP 26 – the most important discussions to take place in the world this year. 

"And so in our first hundred days, we will publish an indicative national defined contribution – setting out how Scotland will become a net-zero nation by 2045.