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Danish politicians 'surprised' as Trump cancels visit after officials say Greenland is not for sale

Reports emerged last week that the US President was interested in buying the Danish territory.

US President Donald Trump in the White House yesterday
US President Donald Trump in the White House yesterday
Image: Alex Brandon/PA Images

DANISH POLITICIANS HAVE expressed surprise after US President Donald Trump announced that he would postpone a planned meeting with the country’s prime minister because it said that Greenland is not for sale.

Trump tweeted that he had cancelled an upcoming visit to Denmark following the country’s announcement about the world’s largest island.

His decision confirmed just how interested he was in purchasing Greenland, an idea that had initially been dismissed as a joke by some, but which the White House later insisted was serious because of the territory’s strategic location.

“Based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump tweeted.

A White House spokesman also confirmed that “the visit to Denmark is cancelled”.

“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 wrote.

Head of communications for the Danish Royal House, Lene Balleby said the development was a “surprise”, according to public broadcaster DR.

Trump’s comments also sparked a strong reaction from both sides of the political aisle in Denmark.

“Reality transcends imagination… this man is unpredictable,” said Morten Ostergaard of the Social Liberal Party, which is part of the ruling coalition.

“For no reason Trump assumes that [an autonomous] part of our country is for sale. Then insultingly cancels visit that everybody was preparing for,” tweeted Rasmus Jarlov, a member of the opposition Conservative Party.

“Are parts of the US for sale? Alaska? Please show more respect.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that Trump was interested in buying the self-governing Danish territory – which is mostly covered in ice – and that he had asked his advisors if it was possible.

The president, a former real estate magnate, was curious about the area’s natural resources and geopolitical relevance, the paper said.

Trump subsequently confirmed that he was interested in buying Greenland, but said the purchase was not a priority for his administration, adding that his forthcoming trip to Denmark was “not for this reason at all”.

When previously asked if he would consider trading a US territory for Greenland, Trump replied that “a lot of things could be done”.

“Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal,” he said.

But while Greenland’s ministry of foreign affairs insisted last week that the island was ready to talk business, it said that it was not for sale.

- © AFP 2019

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