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Trump calls Danish prime minister's response on Greenland 'nasty'

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump accused Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of being "nasty" in her reaction to his idea the U.S. could buy Greenland.
  • The President canceled his state visit to Denmark next month after Frederiksen rejected any suggestion the U.S. could buy Greenland.
  • Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she had been looking forward to the visit and preparations were well under way.
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Trump cancels visit to Denmark after refusal to sell Greenland to US

President Donald Trump accused Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of being "nasty" and "not nice" in her rejection of his idea the U.S. could buy Greenland.

"I looked forward to going but I thought the Prime Minister's statement that it was an absurd idea was nasty, it was an inappropriate statement, all she had to do was say 'no we wouldn't be interested,'" he told reporters on Wednesday.

Adding that he wouldn't allow a continuation of "the way they treated us under President Obama," Trump told the press Frederiksen's comment on a potential purchase was "a very not nice way of saying something."

"They could've told me no — this is something that's been discussed for many years," he said. "Harry Truman had the idea of Greenland, I had the idea, other people have had the idea. It goes back into the early 1900s, but Harry Truman very strongly thought it was a good idea."

On Sunday, Frederiksen said Trump's suggestion of purchasing the territory was "absurd," prompting the U.S. leader to cancel a state visit to Denmark scheduled for early September.

The President's decision to cancel the trip left Danish officials a little astonished.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Frederiksen said she had been looking forward to the visit and preparations were well under way.

"It is with regret and surprise that I received the news that President Trump has canceled his state visit to Denmark on the 2nd and 3rd of September," she said. "It was an opportunity, I think, to celebrate Denmark's close relationship to the U.S., who remains one of Denmark's closest allies."

Frederiksen noted that further cooperation and dialogue was needed between Denmark, Greenland and the U.S. to address climate issues in the Arctic.

A map detailing the agreed borders between the U.S., Russia, Canada and Greenland (Denmark) in the Artcic Ocean.
CNBC

"I would like to underline our invitation for stronger cooperation on Arctic affairs still stands," she said. "A discussion has, however, been raised about a potential sale of Greenland. This has clearly been rejected by (Greenland Premier) Kim Kielsen, a position that I share of course."

"This does not change the character of our good relations, and we will of course from Denmark continue our ongoing dialogue with the U.S. on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing," Frederiksen added.

Meanwhile, Lene Balleby, head of communications for the Danish royal household, told CNBC Wednesday that the news of the cancelation was "definitely a surprise" to the palace, which had extended the invitation to Trump.

The U.S. president took to Twitter Tuesday to announce he would no longer go to Denmark next month, but said he looked forward to rescheduling the 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," he said.

Greenland is a massive island and autonomous Danish territory between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. The land mass is considered to be rich with coal, zinc, copper and iron ore.

Greenland 'not for sale'

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is pictured during a press conference held with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not in the picture) at the Chancellery in Berlin on July 11, 2019.
NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Frederiksen said Sunday that Greenland was not for sale, slamming the idea that it could be sold to the U.S. as "absurd."

"Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously," she told Greenland's Sermitsiaq newspaper.

NBC News confirmed reports on Sunday that Trump was interested in buying Greenland, after White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told "Fox News Sunday" that the U.S. was "looking at" purchasing the resource-rich territory.

On Monday, Trump tweeted a mocked-up photograph of a giant Trump tower on Greenland soil.

— NBC News contributed to this report.