EDINBURGH, Scotland -- British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered an emotional plea during a visit to Edinburgh on Thursday, urging Scots to remain within the United Kingdom and vowing to offer the region more autonomy if they reject independence in an upcoming referendum.

David Cameron delivers a speech at the Apex Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland Thursday. (POOL/REUTERS)

Cameron’s speech came just before key talks with Scotland’s first minister and head of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond. The region’s biggest advocate for independence, Salmond has called a historic referendum for autumn 2014 that could end Scotland’s more than 300-year-old status as part of Great Britain.

In negotiations Thursday that Cameron described as “frustrating,” the two leaders failed to agree on two of the most contentious issues pertaining to the referendum: the wording of the independence question and whether more than one question would be presented to Scottish voters.

Cameron, meanwhile, issued a direct appeal to Scots, asking them to reject independence.

 “The United Kingdom isn’t just some sort of deal, to be reduced to the lowest common denominator,” he said. “It’s a precious thing. It’s about our history, our values, our shared identity and our joint place in the world.”

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