Donald Trump says that Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen called him and they had ‘a great conversation,’ as he dialed back an assault on the U.S. ally he called ‘nasty’ over her refusal to sell Greenland.
‘She called me, a wonderful woman, we had a great conversation, we have a very good relationship with Denmark, and we agreed to speak later,’ he said Friday evening. ‘But she was very nice. she put a call in, and I appreciated it very much.’
Frederiksen’s office said Friday the two leaders spoke late Thursday, and Danish media reported the call was ‘constructive.’ The White House had not confirmed the call, but it is believed to be the first time the two spoke since Trump announced he was scrapping his two-day state visit.
He had planned to visit Denmark on September 2 and 3, until he postponed his the trip while they traded barbs on Greenland.
Donald Trump says that Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen called him and they had ‘a great conversation’
He dialed back an assault on the U.S. ally he called ‘nasty’ over her refusal to sell Greenland
The two leaders got into a verbal fisticuffs after the president floated the idea of buying Greenland – a Danish territory – and Frederiksen called the plan ‘absurd.’
‘Greenland is not for sale and U.S. President Donald Trump’s idea of buying the semi-autonomous Danish territory in the Arctic from Denmark is an absurd discussion,’ she said on Monday when reports of Trump’s desire for Greenland leaked.
Trump, in retaliation, canceled his September 2 and 3rd visit to Denmark, which was originally seen as a thank you to the small northern European nation, which is a member of NATO and has supported the U.S. military missions in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
‘I thought that the prime minister’s statement that it was absurd – that it was an absurd idea – was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say no, we wouldn’t be interested,’ he said said her reaction.
He also accused her of insulting the United States with her response.
‘She’s not talking to me,’ he said of Frederiksen. ‘She’s talking to the United States of America. You don’t talk to the United States that way. At least under me.’
‘I thought it was not a nice statement – the way she blew me off,’ he added later. ‘We’ve done a lot for Denmark.’
Greenland handles its own domestic affairs but Denmark covers its national security and foreign relations. The Danes also pay for 50 percent of the island’s budget in direct subsidies with additional spending on defense.
In total, Denmark spends about $740 million annually on Greenland, which boasts a population of just 56,000.
The island is home to the U.S. Thule Air Base. The northern-most U.S. base is part of the military’s global network of radars and other sensors to provide ballistic missile warning and space surveillance.
Interest in Greenland has grown as its ice sheet melts and more of its resources become available. The melting ice is also changing the availability of shipping routes in the Arctic. China and Russia have shown interest in the island.
A 2014 report from the Brookings Institute noted that Greenland’s mineral and energy resources – including iron ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, rare earth elements, uranium and oil – are becoming more accessible due to its ice sheet melting.
President Trump was invited by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II for a state visit, which would have followed a stop in Warsaw, Poland, where the president will take part in a series of ceremonies in honor of the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II.
First lady Melania Trump was to have accompanied him and dinner with the Queen was on the agenda.
Greenland, which sits between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, has seen its strategic value grow
The president initially claimed the visit wouldn’t be about a Greenland purchase, his sudden cancellation has cast doubts on the intentions of his trip.
‘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,’ the president wrote on Twitter Tuesday night.
Frederiksen, who took office two months ago as Denmark’s second female head of government and the leader of the left-leaning Social Democratic Party, said relations between Copenhagen and Washington ‘are not in any crisis in my opinion’ after Trump announced the cancelation.
‘I don’t believe that the cancellation should have any influence on other matters,’ she said.
She also confirmed Wednesday that ‘a discussion about a potential sale of Greenland has been put forward.’
But she noted: ‘It has been rejected by Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen, and I fully stand behind that rejection’.
The prime minister said she was ‘disappointed and surprised’ by Trump’s decision to cancel his two-day stop in her country.
But she told reporters that ‘the invitation for a stronger strategic cooperation with the Americans in the Arctic is still open’.