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Danish PM Regrets Trump's Canceled Visit After She Rejected Greenland Sale

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses the media regarding U.S. President Donald Trump's cancellation of his visit to Denmark, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Aug. 21, 2019.

Updated Aug. 21, 2019, 12:10p.m.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Wednesday she regretted and was surprised that U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly canceled his scheduled visit to Denmark when she rebuffed his overture to buy Greenland, the Arctic country that is part of the Danish kingdom.

"I had been looking forward to the visit, our preparations were well underway," she told reporters in Copenhagen. "It was an opportunity, I think, to celebrate Denmark’s close relationship to the U.S., and who remains one of Denmark's closest allies. I was looking forward to having a dialogue on the many shared interests Denmark has with the U.S.”

But Trump called off the September 2-3 visit late Tuesday, while saying that, "Denmark is a very special country with incredible people." But he said that with Frederiksen declaring 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 also thanked Frederiksen for saving "a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark" by publicly stating ahead of time her views opposing any possible Greenland sale.

Frederiksen said rebuffing Trump on Greenland "does not change the character of our good relations, and we will of course, from Denmark, continue our ongoing dialogue with the U.S. on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing.”

She said U.S.-Danish discussions on security and resource development in the Arctic are at the forefront.

"The Arctic area is more important than ever," she said. "And of course, this is mainly a question about security. And when you look at the Danish-U.S. history, the question about our common security is on the top of the agenda.”

FILE - Snow-covered mountains rise above the harbor and town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, Jan. 10, 2019.
FILE - Snow-covered mountains rise above the harbor and town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, Jan. 10, 2019.

Danish political figures assailed Trump's trip cancellation, saying his snub of the Danish visit was ill-mannered.

"It's an insult from a close friend and ally," Danish parliamentarian Michael Aastrup J ensen said, adding that Trump "lacks even basic diplomatic skills."

Denmark's former business minister, Rasmus Jarlov, said on Twitter, "For no reason Trump assumes that (an autonomous) part of our country is for sale. Then insultingly cancels visit that everybody was preparing for. Please show more respect."

Left-wing politician Pernille Skipper wrote on Twitter, "Trump lives on another planet. Self-sufficient and disrespectful."

Trump recently floated the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark but officials in Denmark and Greenland immediately responded that the island was not for sale. Many at first thought Trump's suggestion was a joke until they realized it was not.

"Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously," Frederiksen told the newspaper Sermitsiaq during a visit to Greenland.

The Danish prime minister said that while she considers the United States to be her country's closest strategic ally, "thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over."

Trump had been invited to Denmark for a state visit, but White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed late Tuesday that the trip was canceled.