NICOLA Sturgeon has met with a top US government official to discuss independence and the “constitutional future” of the UK during her visit to Washington DC.

The First Minister is currently in the USA on a two-day trip aiming to encourage investment and co-operation between Scotland and the US.

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On Monday she gave a wide-ranging speech to the Brookings Institute think tank, touching on issues like the war in Ukraine and climate change.

And on Monday night the First Minister’s official Twitter account revealed she had met with Wendy Sherman, a senior figure in the US government State Department.

The department is focused on American foreign policy and international relations.

Wendy Sherman, a long-serving American diplomat who has worked under Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, is the first woman to serve as Deputy Secretary of State in the department, having been selected by Joe Biden for the position.

She has also worked as a special adviser to Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

During their meeting, Sturgeon and Sherman “discussed the situation in Ukraine and resulting refugee crisis, the Northern Ireland Protocol and the constitutional future of the UK”, the First Minister’s account tweeted.

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With the First Minister pledging to hold indyref2 in 2023, the SNP securing a record victory in this month’s council elections and Sinn Fein succeeding at the local vote in Northern Ireland, Sturgeon will certainly be referring to the continuation of the Union.

Ahead of the trip, the Conservatives called it an “indy tour” and accused the First Minister of promoting independence abroad at taxpayers’ expense.

But the First Minister hit back at that, pointing out that critics often "try to legitimise" her government's international work

“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," she said.

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