Donald Trump cancels Denmark trip after Greenland rebuff

The US president had aired the possibility of buying the Arctic island

FILE PHOTO: Snow covered mountains rise above the harbour and town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
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US President Donald Trump has cancelled a trip to Denmark after his attempts to buy the Arctic island of Greenland were firmly rebuffed.

Mr Trump announced the postponement on Twitter, to the bewilderment of the Danish parliament, two weeks before he was due to travel to the northern European nation.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had described Mr Trump’s tentative proposal to buy Greenland – a semi-autonomous Danish territory in the Arctic – as “absurd”.

Mr Trump, a former property developer, cited the prime minister’s “direct” comments as the reason for cancelling the trip.

“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,” he wrote on Twitter.

“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 some time in the future.”

Greenland hosts the Thule US airbase on its northwest coast, the farthest north of the US military’s global network of early ballistic missile warning centres and space surveillance.

The Arctic region is seen as one the last largely untapped areas of the world for minerals and other natural resources.

Mr Trump had likened the potential purchase to a large property deal. “We’re very good allies with Denmark. We’ve protected Denmark like we protect large portions of the world, so the concept came up,” he said on Sunday.

The prospect of US ownership of Greenland was widely derided in Denmark, with former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen among those mocking Mr Trump’s ambitions.

Morten Ostergaard, the leader of the Social Liberals party that forms part of the government bloc, said the US state department must have told Mr Trump that the island was not up for sale.

“This is pretty hopeless. And it shows why we more than ever need to regard the EU members as our closest allies. You cannot count on this man,” he wrote in a Tweet.

Denmark’s royal palace expressed surprise at the postponement of the September 2-3 visit but declined to comment further.