Trump scraps Denmark visit after Danes say Greenland not for sale

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump on Tuesday postponed a planned visit to Denmark after Danish officials insisted its autonomous territory of Greenland was not for sale.

Trump’s decision confirms just how interested he was in purchasing Greenland, an idea initially dismissed as a joke by some, but which the White House later insisted had a serious purpose because of its 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.

During a Sunday visit to Greenland – the largest island on Earth – Frederiksen called Trump’s idea “absurd.”

“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,” Trump tweeted. “I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”.

US President Donald Trump speaks at the White House. PHOTO: AP

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

The president’s latest Greenland comments 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 that Trump had expressed interest in the self-governing part of Denmark – which is mostly covered in ice – asking advisors if it would be possible for the US to acquire the territory.

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