Trump Cancels Meeting With Denmark’s Leader
President Donald Trump canceled a state visit to Denmark after his offer to buy Greenland was met first with bemusement, then flat refusal. Anger followed, and even 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 island is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, though it has extensive home rule.
A leading member of the Danish government bloc on Wednesday morning called Trump’s behavior “hopeless,” while a former prime minister said the decision was “deeply insulting” to the people of Denmark and asked whether the whole exercise had been a joke. 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.
Formal U.S. discussions with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen were to focus 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, tweeted that the debacle will require “enormous trans-Atlantic reparations” to put relations right again.
Frederiksen is due to brief reporters at 3 p.m. in Copenhagen on the Danish government’s response to Trump’s decision, her office said in a tweet.
The cancellation of the trip marks a “diplomatic crisis,” according to 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.
Frederiksen, the prime minister, had called the idea of buying Greenland “absurd” and said she hoped it was a joke. She made clear the island wasn’t for sale and that Denmark doesn’t have the authority to sell it in any case. Trump saved his response for Twitter.
“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 said in a Twitter post on Tuesday night.
Morten Ostergaard, the leader of the Social Liberals who form part of the government bloc, tweeted that “reality has surpassed fantasy. It cannot be that no one in the U.S. state department told Trump in advance” that buying Greenland isn’t an option. “This is pretty hopeless. And it shows why we more than ever need to regard the EU members as our closest allies. You cannot count on this man.”
Here’s what former Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt had to say:
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who used to be NATO secretary general and is another former Danish PM, also weighed in: