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It was Russia’s most expensive and the most ambitious space mission since Soviet times.

UNITED KINGDOM

Scottish leader agrees to talks on referendum

LONDON | Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has agreed to an invitation by the British government to hold talks this week in a bid to resolve a row over an independence referendum, his spokesman said Sunday.

Michael Moore, the British minister for Scotland in the United Kingdom’s London-based government, asked to meet Mr. Salmond to discuss the clash over the vote, which could dissolve a 305-year union.

Mr. Salmond’s spokesman said the talks would have to wait until after Wednesday, when the semiautonomous Edinburgh government is set to publish a consultation document on the referendum.

The spokesman also accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of being “uncomfortable” and of trying to avoid having talks with Mr. Salmond.

A constitutional clash erupted Tuesday after Mr. Cameron’s government announced that only the parliament in London had the legal power to set the terms for a referendum, and said the vote should be held as soon as possible.

Mr. Salmond hit back hours after the announcement, saying the devolved Scottish government would hold an independence referendum in autumn 2014 and on its own terms.

There is also disagreement about whether there should be a single question - London’s favored option - asking Scottish voters if they want to be “in or out,” and about Mr. Salmond’s wish to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.