Donald Trump has postponed a meeting with Denmark’s prime minister because “she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland”.
The US president recently floated the idea of purchasing the huge island, a semi-autonomous territory of Denmark, but said as recently as the weekend that such a transaction was not a top priority.
Denmark had rebuffed the idea, saying Greenland was not for sale.
Now Mr Trump has tweeted 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”.
In a second tweet, he added: “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. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
Mr Trump was scheduled to depart at the end of August on a trip that included stops in Denmark and Poland.
His tweets brutally undercut the US ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, who just hours earlier had tweeted effusively about her boss’s impending arrival. “Denmark is ready for the POTUS @realDonaldTrump visit! Partner, ally, friend”, she said.
Mr Trump became interested in Greenland after hearing about its natural resources and geopolitical importance, according to The Wall Street Journal which originally reported the story.
He later told journalists that the territory, which is situated between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, was strategically “interesting” and purchasing it would be essentially “a large real estate deal”.
The US president was subsequently mocked on social media and his words have prompted baffled reactions from foreign leaders.
Denmark insisted that Greenland it is not for sale.
Over the weekend Ms Frederiksen said she hoped Mr Trump was not being serious. “Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously,” she told the Sermitsiaq newspaper.
In a separate interview with Danish broadcaster DR she added: “It’s an absurd discussion, and Kim Kielsen has of course made it clear that Greenland is not for sale. That’s where the conversation ends.”
Greenland’s premier Kim Kielsen reiterated that stance, but said it was ”open for trade and cooperation with other countries, including the USA”.
The territory is economically dependent on Denmark but handles its own domestic affairs, while Copenhagen looks after defence and foreign policy.
The US military has operated for decades from Thule Air Base in the country and Harry Truman is believed to have tried to buy the nation in 1946.