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Trump cancels Denmark trip after PM says Greenland isn't for sale

NBC News logo NBC News 8/21/2019 Dareh Gregorian and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner
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President Donald Trump is calling off an upcoming trip to Denmark after its prime minister rebuffed his interest in buying Greenland, a Danish territory, the White House announced on Tuesday.

"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," Trump tweeted. "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!"

Trump was invited on an official state visit by the Queen of Denmark. White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere confirmed that the entire trip was cancelled.

Trump mused about acquiring Greenland from Denmark on Sunday, telling reporters that “it's something we talked about."

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"Denmark essentially owns it, we're very good allies with Denmark," he said. "Strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested, but we'll talk to them a little bit."

But, he added, "first we have to find out whether or not they have any interest."

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he meets with President of Romania Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office on August 20, 2019. © Alex Wong President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he meets with President of Romania Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office on August 20, 2019.

Frederiksen said they did not.

"Greenland is not for sale," she told Greenlandish media on Sunday. "Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously."

Danes reacted with surprise and anger after Trump cancelled his trip. One Danish politician called on the president to show more respect."

Another called the cancellation a "disrespectful and almost childish reaction."

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 11: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a joint press conference held with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not seen) on July 11, 2019 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) © 2019 Anadolu Agency BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 11: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a joint press conference held with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not seen) on July 11, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Technically a part of North America, Greenland is between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and between Canada and Europe. It’s an autonomous Danish territory with a population of more than 50,000 and has natural resources such as coal and uranium.

Kim Kielsen, Greenland's premier, said in a statement that the island "is not for sale and cannot be sold, but Greenland is open for trade and cooperation with other countries — including the United States.”

Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the visit came as a surprise, since the White House initially described the trip as unrelated to Trump’s Greenland aspirations. He told reporters on Sunday, that, "we're going to Poland and then we may be going to Denmark ⁠— not for this reason at all. But we're looking at it."

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