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Donald Trump has scrapped a scheduled trip to Denmark after the country’s Prime Minister refused to entertain his plans to buy Greenland, the world’s largest island.
"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 tweeted in a fit of pique Tuesday night.
"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!"
A White House spokesman confirmed that Trump’s visit to Denmark, originally scheduled for Sept. 2 and 3, was now cancelled, a move a spokeswoman for the Danish Royal House, Lene Balleby, described as “a complete surprise.”
Denmark has never expressed any intention to sell Greenland, an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, and Frederiksen had described any suggestion of Washington purchasing the island as “absurd” and a joke.
"Greenland is not for sale… Greenland belongs to Greenland,” she told reporters Sunday, calling the suggestion “an absurd discussion."
“Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there. Jokes aside, we will of course love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the United States.”
Danes had been baffled by reports that Trump wanted to buy the island, with many questioning whether the bizarre proposal could possibly be serious. But on Sunday, Trump confirmed to reporters that he planned to discuss a potential sale of Greenland during his trip, saying that “essentially it's a large real estate deal.”
He then irritated the Danes further by tweeting out a doctored image of a gold Trump Tower among the colorful homes of a Greenland village.
Frederiksen is yet to make a statement in response to the cancellation, but other Danes were quick to voice their disbelief and anger over Trump’s arrogance.
“So the POTUS has cancelled his visit to Denmark because there was no interest in discussing selling Greenland,” tweeted former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. “Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.”
Danish Conservative MP Rasmus Jarlov called on Trump to “show more respect.” “As a Dane (and a conservative) it is very hard to believe. For no reason Trump assumes that (an autonomous) part of our country is for sale. Then insultingly cancels visit that everybody was preparing for,” he tweeted.
“Are parts of the U.S. for sale? Alaska?”
The 811,000-square mile island may seem like an unlikely prize to trigger a rift between two Western allies. Largely covered in ice, it has a population of just 50,000, which relies on nearly $600 million of Danish economic support annually.
But Greenland is also rich in natural resources like coal, zinc, copper and iron ore, and occupies a geopolitically strategic position between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Under the terms of a defense treaty with Denmark, Washington operates a major airbase in northern Greenland, which forms a critical part of the U.S. missile warning system.
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, in Washington. Trump has been on a tear about Google that traces back to unfounded conspiracy theories about the technology giant, unproven claims by former Google employees and a small research study that the president misconstrued. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)