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Is Trump Coming? Danes Prepare for State Visit Amid Fresh Doubts

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 8/19/2019 Morten Buttler and Christian Wienberg

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump indicated before a planned trip to Copenhagen that he wanted to buy Greenland, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The government in the Danish capital told him the world’s biggest island isn’t for sale, and the state visit is now in doubt.

Trump has been invited by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for a state visit due to take place on Sept. 2-3. The office of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has confirmed the planned trip, and says the necessary preparations for an official presidential visit are being put in place.

But over the weekend, Trump told reporters that it’s not certain he’ll be making the trip. Asked about those comments during a visit to Greenland’s capital Nuuk on Monday, Frederiksen said her government would “intensify” planning for Trump’s arrival in the “coming weeks.” She also said she wants closer cooperation between Denmark and Greenland, including on defense and foreign affairs.

The confusion prompted one prominent opposition member of the Danish parliament to refer to Trump’s non-committal attitude as an affront to Denmark’s Queen.

The uncertainty surrounding Trump’s first state visit to Denmark -- a founding NATO member and a U.S. ally during the Iraq war -- comes amid dismay in Greenland and Copenhagen after Trump expressed his apparent interest in purchasing the world’s largest island. Trump told reporters that buying Greenland would be “a large real estate deal” that could ease a financial burden on Denmark.

Speaking in Nuuk on Sunday, Frederiksen said that “of course” the island is “not for sale. And I can’t sell Greenland. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic,” she told Danish broadcasters.

But from the U.S. perspective, Trump said that “strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit,” in comments made on Sunday as he left New Jersey for Washington after spending more than a week at his golf course. He also said a deal is “not No. 1 on the burner.”

Read more: Can Trump Buy Greenland? What to Know Besides ‘No’: QuickTake

Trump said that Denmark loses almost $700 million a year on Greenland, which has a population of about 56,000. “It’s hurting Denmark very badly,” he said. The Danish state pays an annual subsidy of about $500 million to Greenland, which has a gross domestic product of roughly $2.7 billion.

“Essentially it’s a large real estate deal,” Trump said. “A lot of things can be done.”

Read more: Does Trump Want to Buy Greenland? Denmark Isn’t Selling

Denmark has been adamant in its rejection of a sale since reports emerged last week that Trump had directed advisers and lawyers to review a possible deal.

Frederiksen said, “I keep trying to hope that this isn’t something that was seriously meant,” according to local newspaper Sermitsiaq.

Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, said earlier on Sunday that Greenland is a “strategic place” rich in valuable minerals and that discussions are continuing. “The president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a potential Greenland purchase,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday.”

(Adds fresh comments from Frederiksen.)

--With assistance from Jordan Yadoo, Jennifer Jacobs and Steve Geimann.

To contact the reporters on this story: Morten Buttler in Copenhagen at mbuttler@bloomberg.net;Christian Wienberg in Copenhagen at cwienberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tasneem Hanfi Brögger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net, Nick Rigillo

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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