President Trump Cancels Denmark Trip Over Greenland Purchase

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before boarding Air Force One in Morristown, New Jersey, on August 18, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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President Trump has cancelled a trip to the small European state Denmark, after Danish leaders ridiculed his offer to consider negotiations over the purchase of semi-autonomous territory Greenland from the state.

The news that President Trump had cancelled his state visit to Denmark, due to take place next month, came after he expressed interest in purchasing Greenland from Denmark. The idea, which the President said himself wasn’t a top priority for the administration, was dismissed as “absurd” by the Danish Prime Minister.

Making reference to the frankness of the rebuttal, the President wrote Wednesday that “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 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.”

Greenland, the largest island in the world that isn’t a continent in its own right is strategically important and mineral-rich, but it covered in ice and despite having an area of 836,330 square miles, is inhabited by little more than 50,000 people — the equivalent of a small town. The important role the north-Atlantic landmass played in the Second World and Cold Wars is immortalised in the acronym GIUK, referring to the strategic waterways between Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, through which warships and merchant vessels sail to access the world to and from Europe.

The President had said “strategically … it would be nice” for Greenland to become part of the United States. Trump has also made light of the purchase, promising not to build a Trump hotel in one of the small community towns found in the country with a humourous doctored picture posted to Twitter.

The United States has a strong history of expanding its territory by purchasing land from other countries. Louisiana, the Virgin Islands, parts of Arizona and New Mexico, and Alaska came to be parts of the United States in this way. The Virgin Islands themselves were purchased from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million in gold. The 1867 purchase of Alaska was widely criticised at the time, but has since proven its worth.

While the sudden cancellation of the Denmark trip over the strong rebuttal of the proposed Greenland purchase has shocked some, including former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt who called it “deeply insulting”, President Trump has made a virtue out of wild moves that pay off during his presidency. His tough love on NATO in 2016 and beyond gained the President critics worldwide who claimed he was weakening the security alliance, but leaders later came to praise the President for his actions strengthening the alliance.

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