Greenland cold-shoulders Trump’s buyer’s interest

Published August 17, 2019, 9:11 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

Greenland is not for sale, local authorities said Friday, after a newspaper reported that US President Donald Trump is looking into whether it might be possible for the United States to buy the mineral-rich Arctic island.

Trump has expressed interest in the self-governing part of Denmark -- which is mostly covered in ice (AFP Photo/Jonathan NACKSTRAND)
Trump has expressed interest in the self-governing part of Denmark — which is mostly covered in ice (AFP Photo/Jonathan NACKSTRAND)

Trump has expressed interest in the self-governing part of Denmark — which is mostly covered in ice, — asking advisors if it is possible for the US to acquire the territory, The Wall Street Journal said Thursday, citing people familiar with the discussions.

The president, a former real estate magnate, has been curious about the area’s natural resources and geopolitical relevance, the paper reported.

Greenland is a self-governing region of Denmark, which colonised the 772,000 square-mile (two-million square kilometre) island in the 18th century, and is home to only about 57,000 people, most of whom belong to the indigenous Inuit community.

There has been no official comment from the White House, and the Danish embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

Greenland’s ministry of foreign affairs insisted 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.

‘April Fool’
The office of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

But a former premier, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, tweeted: “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke… but totally out of season!”

Greenland locals were similarly bemused by the report.

“If you look at the social media, people see it as a big joke,” Jakob Ipsen, owner of a hotel in Qulusuk in eastern Greenland, told AFP.

“In my own opinion, it’s never going to happen. People are laughing at the moment.”

Qulusuk has around 280 inhabitants, most of whom make their living from hunting and fishing, but groups of American tourists come to the village during the summer months.

Some Trump advisors say acquiring Greenland, which is northeast of Canada, could be good for the US, while others called it only a “fleeting fascination” from the president, The Wall Street Journal said.

Others outside the White House say Trump’s interest could be a desire to secure a legacy achievement, the paper reported, and advisors wondered about the potential for research or greater military clout for the US.

World’s largest island
The US’s northern-most military base, Thule Air Base, has been located on Greenland for decades.

But Greenland doesn’t quite live up to its lush name — 85 percent of the island is covered by a 1.9-mile-thick (three-kilometre) ice sheet that contains 10 percent of the world’s fresh water.

The world’s largest island has suffered from climate change, scientists say, becoming a giant melting icicle that threatens to submerge the world’s coastal areas one day.

July and August saw unprecedented melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Trump, who in 2017 withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Agreement to cap global warming levels, is reportedly set to visit Copenhagen in September.

This isn’t the first time the president has expressed interest in foreign properties — he has said North Korea’s “great beaches” would make ideal locations for condos.