COPENHAGEN: Greenland is not for sale and the idea of selling it to the United States is absurd, Denmark's prime minister said on Sunday (Aug 18) after an economic advisor to President Donald Trump confirmed the US interest in buying the world's largest island.
"Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously," Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told the newspaper Sermitsiaq during a visit to Greenland.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday confirmed media reports earlier in the week that Trump had privately discussed with his advisors the idea of buying Greenland.
Following his remarks, President Trump also confirmed his interest in buying Greenland, but said it was not a priority for his administration.
"It's something we talked about," Trump told reporters.
"The concept came up and I said certainly, strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested, but we'll talk to (Denmark) a little bit," he said, stressing that it was "not number one on the burner" for the government.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Trump had expressed interest in the self-governing part of Denmark - which is mostly covered in ice - asking advisors if it would be possible for the US to acquire the territory.
The president, a former real estate magnate, has been curious about the area's natural resources and geopolitical relevance, the paper said.
When asked if he would consider trading a US territory for Greenland, Trump replied that "a lot of things could be done."
"Essentially, it's a large real estate deal," he said.
"It's hurting Denmark very badly because they're losing almost US$700 million a year carrying it ... and strategically, for the United States, it would be nice," he added.
Denmark colonised the 772,000 square-mile (two-million square kilometer) island in the 18th century. It is home to only about 57,000 people, most of whom belong to the indigenous Inuit community.
Greenland's ministry of foreign affairs insisted on Friday that the island was ready to talk business, but was not for sale.
"#Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism," it tweeted.
"We're open for business, not for sale," it added.
Trump's is due to visit Copenhagen early next month, when the Arctic will be on the agenda in meetings with Frederiksen and Prime Minister Kim Kielsen of Greenland.
A defence treaty between Denmark and the United States dating back to 1951 gives the US military rights over the Thule Air Base in northern Greenland.
Greenland, located between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, is dependent on Danish economic support. It handles its own domestic affairs while Copenhagen looks after defence and foreign policy.