Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 September 2019

Greenland: Mike Pompeo calls Denmark 'US ally' after Arctic island row

Donald Trump cancelled a state visit to the country after his offer to buy Greenland was rebuffed

Icebergs float behind the town of Kulusuk in Greenland. AFP 
Icebergs float behind the town of Kulusuk in Greenland. AFP 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called Denmark a “US ally” after President Donald Trump cancelled a state visit to the Scandinavian country in a public spat over the Arctic island of Greenland.

Mr Pompeo had a “friendly” phone call with Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod on Wednesday evening, the US state department said.

The conversation came after Mr Trump described Denmark’s prime minister as “nasty” for rebuffing his offer to buy Greenland, a semi-autonomous Danish territory.

Danish prime minister Mette Frederikse had called the idea of the US buying the island “absurd” but added later that she was “disappointed and surprised” that he had cancelled his trip at the invitation of Queen Margrethe II, scheduled for September 2.

Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday afternoon that Ms Frederikse, who only took office two months ago, had made an “inappropriate statement” in relation to the purchase offer.

"I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea was nasty," he said.

"I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say no, we wouldn't be interested.”

"She's not talking to me. She's talking to the United States of America. You don't talk to the United States that way, at least under me," he added.

Mr Kofod said the talks with Mr Pompeo had been “frank, friendly and constructive” and that the conversation had affirmed a strong bond between the US and Denmark.

The US sees Greenland as strategically important as it hosts the Thule US airbase on its northwest coast.

The Arctic island is also seen as one of the last largely untapped areas of the world for minerals and other natural resources.

Updated: August 22, 2019 03:29 PM

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