Scottish independence: Bill Clinton urges 'respect' in referendum debate

The former US president Bill Clinton has urged both sides of the Scottish independence debate to weigh up the pros and cons respectfully.

Former US president Bill Clinton has urged both sides of the Scottish independence debate to respectfully weigh up the pros and cons without "tearing the place apart".

The two-term leader was speaking at the Scottish Business Awards in Edinburgh.

He did not give his opinion on the independence referendum, which is due to be held in September 2014.

But he said how Scotland reached its decision on its future was as important as the decision itself.

He said that while he does not know enough about the domestic constitutional debate, he has top-level experience from other states around the world.

'Defined identity'

"You will come out of this better, regardless, if you go about it in the right way," he told an audience of about 1,400 business representatives, and First Minister Alex Salmond.

"It's really important that there be an honest effort to list the consequences of this vote, one way or another.

Start Quote

You just have to run up the pluses and minuses and do it in a way that doesn't tear the place apart”

End Quote Bill Clinton Former US president

"And then people that believe they are now, and might be on different sides, actually sit down and talk to each other about it."

Mr Clinton said people have to treat each other with respect.

He went on: "When you get a question like this, how you respond to it, and how respectfully you treat it, and how honestly you try to listen to other people and then come to the practical conclusion, is sometimes as important as the decision that's made.

"This place already has a quite clearly defined identity.

"You just have to run up the pluses and minuses and do it in a way that doesn't tear the place apart while you're trying to reach an agreement."

Asked for his thoughts at the start of a question and answer session, the former president said it was a decision for people in Scotland and refused to give his clear opinion.

He added: "Secondly, I honestly don't understand enough about what the difference would be between a status of independence which apparently will have some relationship with the UK and the current devolution understanding."

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