By Zeke J Miller
September 15, 2014

The United States continues to have concerns about the Scottish independence efforts as Thursday’s vote approaches, the White House indicated Monday.

Speaking to reporters at the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said it was up to the people of Scotland to decide their fate in this week’s referendum, but that the U.S. has a “deep interest” in a united United Kingdom.

“This is a decision for the people of Scotland to make,” Earnest said. “We certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision along these lines. But, you know, as the president himself said, we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner.”

In at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in June, President Barack Obama said “we obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains strong, robust, united, and an effective partner. But ultimately these are decisions that are to be made by the folks there.”

Earnest would not explicitly state that the U.S. opposes the effort to create the first independent Scotland in 307 years, saying ” I will certainly respect their right to cast their own ballot without interference from people on the outside.”

Polls paint a conflicting picture leading into Thursday’s ballot, though the voting is expected to be close. The United States has enjoyed a “special relationship” with the United Kingdom since the end of World War II. Earnest said that some elements of the U.S. government were considering the implications of a potential independent Scotland on the relationship.

“I suspect that there’s somebody at the administration who’s been thinking about that at some level,” he said. “I don’t know to what level it has risen.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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