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Trump cancels Denmark trip over Greenland snub

August 21, 2019

The US leader gave Denmark the cold shoulder after the Nordic country dismissed the idea of selling Greenland. The move comes two days after Trump said striking a deal on the island was not a top priority.

Donald Trump
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Brandon

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he is cancelling an official visit to Denmark after the Nordic country rebuffed his idea of buying Greenland

The decision comes two days after he confirmed reports that he was interested in buying Greenland — a semi-autonomous Danish territory and the world's largest island. But the US leader also said buying it was not a top priority.

Read more: Donald Trump's ice-cold Greenland calculus

Trump tweeted on Tuesday, "Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but 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."

"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!"

Trump on Sunday also tweeted out a doctored photo of Greenland with a Trump tower imposed, joking that he would not build one of his trademark buildings in Greenland. 

'Disappointed and surprised'

Prime Minister Frederiksen said she was "disappointed and surprised" by Trump's cancellation. She said she had been looking forward to the visit, adding, "the US is one of our closest allies."

Frederiksen told reporters that nevertheless, "the invitation for a stronger strategic cooperation with the Americans in the Arctic is still open."

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, however, was outraged by Trump's decision. "Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark," Thorning-Schmidt said. 

Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it was a "setback" for bilateral ties. "President Trump's postponement of his visit to Denmark is a setback for our countries' diplomatic relations, but it may be for the best," Rasmussen tweeted. 

Rasmussen served as NATO chief from 2009 to 2014, and was prime minister of Denmark between 2001 and 2009.

US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands was also apparently not informed of Trump's decision before it was made public. Shortly before he cancelled the trip via Twitter, she tweeted, "Denmark is ready for POTUS," using an acronym for "President of the United States" along with Trump's Twitter handle. 

'Absurd discussion'

During a visit to Greenland on Sunday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the idea of selling the Arctic island was an "absurd discussion." She told reporters: "Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant."

Trump was scheduled to visit Copenhagen on Sept. 2-3 for meetings with Frederiksen and Greenland's premier, Kim Kielsen.

The US leader's visit to Poland is still expected to go ahead at the end of August. 

sri, stb/sms (Reuters, AP)

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