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21st Sep 2019

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Trump to meet Greenland leader in Denmark

  • "It is not amusing, it is not a funny thing," Greenland prime minister Kim Kielsen commented on Trump's idea to buy his country (Photo: EUobserver)

"I promise to not do this", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday (20 August).

His tweet was posted together with a fake photo showing a Golden Trump tower placed in the middle of a Greenland village.

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It was the second time in less than a week that the US president stirred worldwide attention toward the Arctic island, which is not only the world's largest in size, but also one of the globe's smallest democracies with only 56,000 inhabitants.

"It is not amusing. It is not a funny thing," Greenland prime minister Kim Kielsen commented on Trump's tweet, while attending a Nordic summit in Reykjavik on Tuesday.

At first, Trump's offer was thought of as being an April fool's prank at the wrong time of year, but it now seems that it is more than just that.

An official meeting between Trump and Kielsen is being prepared while Trump is in Copenhagen for an official visit on 2 and 3 September.

According to Kielsen, a group of diplomats is currently working to co-ordinate the meeting with the Danish delegation and fine tune which topics can be discussed at the meeting.

Greenland is an autonomous, but Danish-dependent territory. It has self-government and its own parliament, but its foreign and security policy is decided in Copenhagen.

Greenland is also not a member of the European Union, while Denmark is.

"Of course, my position will be to promote what is good for Greenland," Kielsen told press in Reykjavik. He also repeated that "Greenland is not for sale".

Greenland is strategically important for the US military, as the shortest route from North America to Europe goes via the Arctic island.

"It is his [Trump's] idea, but Greenland is not for sale. What we have said, is that we are open to business. Trump can offer ideas for how there can be more American tourists coming, how Americans can be more present in the raw-material business or in other investments in Greenland. There are options, but, again, it is our legislation that counts, it is our government and our parliament that set the terms," Kielsen said in Iceland.

Attention-seeking

News of Trump's idea to buy Greenland has been broadcast worldwide, which is not at all bad for the island.

"It is good that there is a lot of attention created about Greenland," Kielsen said, adding "there is not only interest from the US, but also from the Chinese and from others".

He underlined that "it is Greenland that decides" on its future, however.

"Let's have the meeting, while he [Trump] is on an official visit in Denmark and it is good that we will then have a chance to talk more into the details. That is good," Greenland's prime minister said.

Development of infrastructure in Greenland is of vital importance, as the huge country, which is not connected by roads, depends on air traffic to make life and commerce function.

"We would like more tourists to come, we want to sell more fish globally, but we would also like to have better opportunities to get around the country," Kielsen said.

China's offer to build three airports was not accepted last September.

Instead, a deal involving the Danish state was signed recently and construction is about to begin.

"It is not the last airports that we need to build in Greenland. We will see how it works out," Kielsen said.

"The future for Greenland is bright. It always was," he added.

Greenland votes with eye on independence

Six out of seven political parties running in Greenland's parliamentary elections on Tuesday are pro-independence, but they disagree on how fast the last ties to Copenhagen should be cut. Increasing dependence on China could be the consequence.

US climate scepticism irks Arctic foreign ministers

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo meets Russia's Sergey Lavrov and other Arctic foreign ministers, amidst a row over climate change. Pompeo is also likely to warn against Chinese advances in the Arctic.

Plastic pollution increasing at the top of the Earth

Marine plastic pollution, much of it garbage from the Asia-Pacific region but also from Europe, is pushed into the Arctic seas by global ocean currents. Scientists are also increasingly detecting microscopic plastic particles brought to the Arctic by long-range winds.

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