Danish prime minister holds ground in escalating Trump-Greenland spat



WASHINGTON, dpa correspondents (dpa)- Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen sought to avoid a war of words with US President Donald Trump but defended her conduct on Wednesday after the president called her "nasty" for slamming his proposal to purchase Greenland.
"I don't need to go into a war of words with anyone, not even the US president," she said on Danish public television.



Danish prime minister
Danish prime minister



Earlier Frederiksen had rejected Trump's proposal to purchase the sparsely populated Northern Atlantic island as an "absurd discussion," with Trump taking offence to her verbiage.
Frederisken told Danish TV that she did not see a problem with her handling of Trump's Greenland proposal.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday Trump said the Danish premier's dismissal was "inappropriate" and demanded more respect for the United States internationally.
"It was not a nice way of saying something," the president told reporters at the White House. "They could have said 'no, we'd rather not do that' or 'we'd rather not talk about it.'"
The US President also took to Twitter on Wednesday to castigate Denmark for directing less than 2 per cent of its GDP to NATO spending.
However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo struck a more amiable tone in a phone call with Danish Foreign Affairs Minister Jeppe Kofod.
According to a White House statement Pompeo "expressed appreciation for Denmark’s cooperation as one of the United States’ allies and Denmark’s contributions to address shared global security priorities."
The pair also discussed "strengthening cooperation with the Kingdom of Denmark – including Greenland – in the Arctic," the White House said.
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted that his coversation with Pompeo was was "frank, friendly and constructive talk" that affirmed the strong US-Denmark bond and they agreed to stay in touch.
It emerged over the weekend that Trump and others in his administration were considering buying Greenland, comparing the measure to a "large real estate deal." The icy territory between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans is mostly self-ruled, though Denmark remains in charge of foreign affairs, defence and monetary policy.
After seeing Frederiksen's reaction Trump announced Tuesday he will not visit Denmark next month as planned. The Danish prime minister said early Tuesday that she received the news with "regret and surprise."
The September 2-3 visit would have been an opportunity "to celebrate Denmark's close relationship to the US, which remains one of Denmark's closest allies," she told reporters in Copenhagen.
In her comments on Danish television on Wednesday evening Frederiksen tried to get beyond the flap between the two NATO partners.
"When you are close allies and good friends, such as Denmark and the US, there should be room for disagreements along the way," she said. "I hope we can soon end this discussion."
Frederiksen said Denmark "will not close any doors" because the problems involving the Arctic are growing and still must be discussed.
She reiterated that the head of Greenland's government, Kim Kielsen, has made it clear that Greenland is not for sale, and that is a view she shares and one that is "widely shared in the Greenlandic and Danish population."
Kielsen, the semi-autonomous territory's premier, underlined on Monday that the people of Greenland must be respected.
The two lawmakers elected from Greenland to the Danish parliament, meanwhile, said Trump should visit the island.
"If Donald Trump wants to discuss Greenland he should come here, and not Denmark," Aaja Chemnitz Larsen told the Sermitsiaq daily.
Aki-Matilda Hoegh-Dam told the daily that the cancellation "was a good signal in a way. It shows that Donald Trump wanted to meet solely due to Greenland," she said.
Former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Twitter that Trump's postponed visit to Denmark was "a setback for our countries' diplomatic relations, but it may be for the best."
"The Arctic's security & environmental challenges are too important to be considered alongside hopeless discussions like the sale of Greenland," wrote Rasmussen, who served as NATO chief from 2009-14 and was prime minister of Denmark from 2001-09.
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Thursday, August 22nd 2019
dpa correspondents (dpa)
           


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