President Donald Trump said he canceled his trip to Denmark after a “nasty” comment by the country’s prime minister.
The president told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s remark that Trump’s interest in buying Greenland was absurd “was a very not nice way of saying something.”
“You don’t talk to the U.S. that way,” Trump said.
Trump called off the trip after his offer to buy Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, was met first with bemusement, then flat refusal. Anger followed, and even Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II was drawn into the fray.
Trump had been due to make his first visit to Denmark, a founding member of NATO and a U.S. ally in the Iraq War, on Sept. 2-3. A series of reports last week indicated he wanted to purchase Greenland, the world’s biggest island and site of a strategic American base. The territory is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, though it has extensive home rule.
A leading member of the Danish government bloc on Wednesday called Trump’s behavior “hopeless,” while a former prime minister said the decision was “deeply insulting” to Danes. The queen weighed in, noting through a spokeswoman that the U.S. president’s decision to snub her invitation in a tweet came as a surprise.
Frederiksen said later that an invitation to Trump for a state visit still stands. The cancellation was a matter for regret, she told reporters in Copenhagen. “I was looking forward to his visit.”
Their discussions were to have focused on the strategic importance of Greenland. It’s where the U.S. has its northernmost base, Thule, and the island’s location close to the natural resources in the Arctic has made it attractive to both Russia and China. Frederiksen’s predecessor, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said the debacle will require “enormous” work to repair trans-Atlantic relations.
The cancellation of the trip is a “diplomatic crisis,” said Kristian Jensen, a leading member of the opposition and a former finance minister. He hinted at the damage done to the post-World War II relationship with Denmark, which was among a handful of countries to follow the U.S. into the Iraq War.
(Fabian reported from Washington, Buttler and Rigillo from Copenhagen.)
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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Frederiksen