SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 21 – US President Donald Trump has cancelled a state visit to Denmark after the nation’s prime minister said Greenland was not for sale to the US.
The president was scheduled to visit on 2 September, at the invitation of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II.
Then last week Mr Trump suggested the US was interested in buying Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory.
Danish PM Mette Frederiksen described the suggestion as “absurd” and said she hoped Mr Trump was not being serious.
While praising Denmark as a “very special country”, Mr Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday that his planned visit would no longer go ahead because Ms Frederiksen had “no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland”.
The cancellation was confirmed by a White House spokesman.
The Danish royal house also confirmed it had been informed of the cancellation. The house’s head of communications, Lene Balleby, told the BBC “it was definitely a surprise”.
Just hours before Mr Trump announced the cancellation, the US ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, tweeted: “Denmark is ready for the POTUS @realDonaldTrump visit! Partner, ally, friend.”
Mr Trump had earlier confirmed reports that he was interested in buying Greenland. When asked on Sunday if he would consider trading a US territory for the island, he replied: “Well, a lot of things could be done.”
“Essentially it’s a large real estate deal,” he said. Then, on Monday, the US president posted an image on social media showing a tall golden skyscraper among the homes of a small village on the island.
The cancellation of what was considered an important state visit in Denmark was described as a “farce” by the leader of the populist Danish People’s Party, Kristian Thulesen Dahl.
“What is this man thinking of though? And with grounds that are worthy of an April Fools’ joke,” he wrote in a tweet.
Danish Conservative MP Rasmus Jarlov, who earlier said that “of all things that are not going to happen, this is the most unlikely”, accused Mr Trump of lacking respect for his country in a tweet on Wednesday.
Former foreign minister Kristian Jensen said Mr Trump’s move had resulted in “total chaos”. “It has gone from a great opportunity for enhanced dialogue between allies to a diplomatic crisis,” he said, adding: “Need to get the co-operation back on track.”
A spokeswoman for the leftist Red-Green Alliance, Pernille Skipper, said: “Trump lives on another planet. Self-sufficient and disrespectful.”
Pia Kjaersgaard, the populist former speaker of the Danish parliament, said it showed a “complete lack of respect”, adding: “Rude behaviour to the Danish people and the Queen, who invited him.”
Danish royal expert and historian Lars Hovbakke Sorensen said the whole episode was “very strange”.
“This is a violation of all traditions and etiquettes and makes it seem like the Trump administration views state visits in a completely different way,” he told Danish broadcaster TV2.
The US has long seen the island, which sits along a direct route from Europe to North America, as being strategically important. It established the Thule air force and radar base there at the start of the Cold War, which now covers space surveillance and forms the northernmost part of the US ballistic missile early warning system.
Meanwhile, new Arctic sea routes are opening up as climate change continues to accelerate the melting of ice in the region.