- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen expressed “regret” and “surprise” Wednesday at President Trump’s decision to scrap a state visit because Denmark refused to negotiate the sale of Greenland to the U.S.

“I’d been looking forward to the visit. Our preparations were well underway,” she said.

She took the high road, however, saying the relationship between NATO allies will not be affected by the snub.

“Our invitation for strong cooperation on Arctic affairs still stands,” Ms. Frederiksen said. “This does not change the character of our good relations, and we will of course — from Denmark — continue our ongoing dialog with the U.S. on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing.”

Mr. Trump said Tuesday evening on Twitter that he would delay his Sept. 2-3 visit because of the prime minister’s lack of interest in selling Greenland, a gigantic island and autonomous Danish possession.

The tweet landed in the middle of the night across the Atlantic, catching the Danes off guard.

In her statement, Ms. Frederiksen largely characterized the cancellation as a missed opportunity to discuss challenges in the Arctic region. She also reiterated her position that Denmark has no interest in ceding its interests in Greenland.

Others in Copenhagen were less charitable.

“Total chaos with @realDonaldTrump and cancellation of the state visit [to Denmark]. It has gone from a great opportunity for enhanced dialogue between allies to a diplomatic crisis,” tweeted Kristian Jensen, a Liberal Party member of Denmark’s parliament.

Others cast it as a slight to their royal house. Queen Margrethe II had personally invited Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump for a visit with her majesty and Denmark’s political and business leaders.

“President Trump cancels his visit to Denmark on Twitter because we do not want to sell Greenland … rude behavior toward the Danish people and the Queen who has invited him,” Pia Kjaersgaard wrote on Twitter, according to a computer-assisted translation of the original Danish.

Ms. Kjaersgaard co-founded the conservative-populist Danish People’s Party, which would seem to make her a natural Trump ally.

Lene Balleby, a spokeswoman for the royal house, told the Associated Press that news of the cancellation came as a “surprise.”

Located between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, Greenland is of strategic importance. It is rich in minerals and other resources, and the U.S. may want to repel Chinese interest in the island.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Mr. Trump’s interest last week, though Ms. Fredriksen on Sunday said the idea was absurd.

Given her stance, Mr. Trump decided to scrap the meeting.

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 wrote.

Mr. Trump complimented the Danish leader for her blunt refusal, saying her direct attitude saved a “great deal of expense and effort.”

Still, the turnabout shocked foreign observers and pundits, saying Mr. Trump put greater conditions on a vital NATO ally than North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who greeted Mr. Trump at the Korean demilitarized zone several weeks ago.

The decision also appeared to blindside Carla Sands, the U.S. ambassador to Denmark. Hours before the cancellation, she tweeted a photo of what appeared to be a TRUMP billboard on a Danish building.

Denmark is ready for the POTUS @realDonaldTrump visit! Partner, ally, friend,” she wrote.

The ambassador played clean-up early Wednesday, tweeting that Mr. Trump values and respects Denmark and looks forward to a visit in the future.

She said “great allies” like the U.S. and Denmark “should be able to discuss all issues openly & candidly.”

Mr. Trump had been scheduled to visit Denmark on his way back to the U.S. from a visit to Poland.

The president confirmed his interest in Greenland on Sunday, though claimed it wasn’t the main purpose of his stop in Denmark and not a front-burner issue.

Now, the White House says the entire Denmark stop is canceled “at this time.”

• Victor Morton contributed to this report.

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