Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.jpg
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Photograph: EPA/GEOFFREY VAN DER HASSELT / POOL

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed British Prime Minister Theresa May to her official Edinburgh residence on Friday, launching talks on Scotland's future with Britain following the latter's decision to leave the European Union.

May said earlier that the meeting at Bute House was aimed at preserving Scotland's "special union" with the rest of Britain following the June 23 referendum for a so-called Brexit.

More than 60 per cent of Scottish voters chose to remain in the EU inthe referendum, prompting calls for a second vote on Scottish sovereignty. The country had rejected independence from Britain in a referendum in September 2014.

Ahead of her meeting with Sturgeon, May said she believes "with all my heart in the United Kingdom – the precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

"I'm coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries," she said in a statement.

May was confirmed Britain's new prime minister on Wednesday. Her predecessor David Cameron resigned after he failed in his months-long campaign to convince a majority to vote against Brexit and stay in the 28-member political bloc.

"And I want to say something else to the people of Scotland too: the government I lead will always be on your side," May said.

"Every decision we take, every policy we take forward, we will stand up for you and your family – not the rich, the mighty or the powerful."

Scottish National Party leader Sturgeon has set up a group of legal, economic, business and diplomatic experts to advise her on "securing Scotland's relationship with the EU."

"Scotland's voted clearly for Remain and I'm determined that Scotland's voice will be heard," Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament on June 28.

"The [referendum] result leaves me profoundly disappointed and concerned," she said.

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