Trump cancels visit to Denmark after PM rejects sale of Greenland
General view of Upernavik in western Greenland, Denmark July 11, 2015. Picture taken July 11, 2015. Ritzau Scanpix/Linda Kastrup via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. [Reuters]
President Donald Trump has announced that his upcoming trip to Denmark is on hold because its prime minister is not interested in selling Greenland to the United States.
Trump posted on social media on Tuesday that “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.”
“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people,” he added.
White House spokesman Judd Deere says Trump’s visit to Denmark has been canceled.
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Earlier, the US president also ridiculed Greenland, posting on social media a doctored image of the island with a Trump tower.
Trump was scheduled to depart at the end of August on a trip that included stops in Denmark and Poland.
Denmark owns Greenland.
Trump recently floated the idea of buying the island but said as recently as Sunday it was not a priority.
Denmark had called the idea “absurd.”
“Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters on Sunday during a visit to the world’s largest island.
“I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant.”
Frederiksen said on Sunday that the Arctic, with resources that Russia and others could exploit for commercial gain, “is becoming increasingly important to the entire world community”.
I promise not to do this to Greenland! pic.twitter.com/03DdyVU6HA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
Retreating ice could uncover potential oil and mineral resources in Greenland which, if successfully tapped, could dramatically change the island’s fortunes. However, no oil has yet been found in Greenlandic waters, and 80 percent of the island is covered by an ice sheet that is up to three kilometres thick, which means exploration is only possible in coastal regions.
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Even there, conditions are far from ideal due to the long winter – with frozen ports, 24-hour darkness and temperatures regularly dropping below -30 degrees Celsius in the northern parts.
In 1946, the US proposed to pay Denmark $100m to buy Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island.
Under a 1951 deal, Denmark allowed the US to build bases and radar stations on Greenland.
The US Air Force currently maintains one base in northern Greenland, Thule Air Force Base, some 1,200km south of the North Pole. Former military airfields in Narsarsuaq, Kulusuk and Kangerlussuaq have become civilian airports.
The Thule base, constructed in 1952, was originally designed as a refuelling stop for long-range bombing missions.
It has been a ballistic missile early warning and space surveillance site since 1961.