Donald Trump ditches Denmark trip after Greenland bid rejected
Donald Trump, the US president, has scrapped a meeting with Mette Frederiksen, the Danish prime minister, after she rebuffed his interest in purchasing Greenland, the ice-covered island rich in natural resources.
In a tweet late on Tuesday, Mr Trump said Denmark was a “very special country with incredible people” but he was postponing the gathering due in two weeks’ time with Ms Frederiksen after she revealed “no interest in discussing” a Greenland purchase.
“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”, the US president said.
Mr Trump was due to visit Denmark on a brief trip to Europe in early September that includes a stop in Poland. He had in recent days expressed a desire to buy Greenland, a brazen bid to purchase the self-governing island that is part of the Danish kingdom, which he likened to a giant real estate deal.
“We protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up, and I said, certainly, strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not number one on the burner,” Mr Trump said.
The US president’s comments were met with a mix of bewilderment and outrage both in Denmark and in Greenland. “Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I really hope that it’s not something that is seriously meant,” Ms Frederiksen said on a visit to the island on Sunday, adding that it was an “absurd” idea.
Just a few hours before Mr Trump cancelled the meeting with the Danish leader, Carla Sands, the US ambassador to Denmark, had tweeted enthusiastically about his looming arrival. “Denmark is ready for the POTUS @realDonaldTrump visit! Partner, ally, friend”, she wrote.
The notion of buying Greenland may not have been at the top of Mr Trump’s agenda, but it was still at the front of his mind early this week. The US president tweeted a picture of a town in Greenland, superimposing an image of Trump Tower on top of it. “I promise not to do this to Greenland”, he tweeted. Kim Kielsen, the premier of Greenland, responded that this was not something to “joke about”, according to the Associated Press.
The White House had touted Mr Trump’s trip to Denmark, a Nato ally, as an opportunity to have bilateral meetings with officials and engage with business leaders — but had not mentioned Greenland or the Arctic as a special topic of interest. Had Mr Trump’s visit proceeded, it would have however been overshadowed by his controversial bid for a possible purchase of the island.
The bizarre episode has exposed US fears about rising Chinese and Russian influence in the Arctic region, which has been highlighted increasingly in recent months and most vividly by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state.