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Trump Called The Danish Prime Minister "Nasty" After He Canceled A Visit Because She Won't Sell Greenland

Trump had previously praised Mette Frederiksen for being "direct." By the way, Greenland is still not for sale.

Last updated on August 21, 2019, at 12:32 p.m. ET

Posted on August 21, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. ET

Tobias Schwarz / AFP / Getty Images

A bizarre diplomatic row, even by the standards of the Trump administration, dragged on Wednesday as the US president said the way Denmark's prime minister dismissed his idea of buying Greenland was "nasty."

On Tuesday, President Trump abruptly canceled a planned state visit to Denmark after Mette Frederiksen, the Danish PM, firmly rejected his stated wish to buy Greenland, the semi-autonomous island home to 56,000 people.

Frederiksen had labelled the idea of the US purchasing Greenland an "absurd discussion" to be having.

....The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!

But while he initially thanked the Danish PM on Twitter for "being so direct," in remarks to journalists as he departed the White House on Wednesday, Trump branded her comment as "nasty."

"I thought the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea, was nasty. I thought it was inappropriate. All she had to do was say, 'No, we wouldn't be interested,'" Trump said.

"She's not talking to me. She's talking to the United States of America," the president added. "You don't talk to the United States that way."

Earlier on Wednesday, Frederiksen expressed "regret and surprise" at September's state visit being canceled, as she reiterated once more that Greenland was not for sale.

"I had been looking forward to the visit and preparations were well underway," Frederiksen told journalists in Copenhagen in a statement delivered in Danish and English. "It was an opportunity to celebrate Denmark's close relationship to the US, which remains one of Denmark's closest allies."

She added, "This does not change the character of our good relations [with the US], and we will of course from Denmark continue our ongoing dialogue with the US on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing."

Only hours before Trump canceled the state visit, the American ambassador, Carla Sands, tweeted excitedly about the president’s upcoming visit.

But on Wednesday she was in damage control mode.

.@POTUS values & respects 🇩🇰 and looks forward to a visit in the future to discuss the many important issues in our strong bilateral relationship! Great friends & Allies like 🇺🇸 and 🇩🇰 should be able to discuss all issues openly & candidly. #dkpol #partnershipsmatter

Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, had been invited by Denmark's Queen Margrethe II. Denmark's state broadcaster quoted a royal spokesperson as saying that Trump's announcement "came as a surprise."

“That’s all we have to say about that,” the spokesperson added.

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was more direct. “Is this some sort of joke?” she wrote on Twitter after Trump canceled the state visit.

So the POTUS has cancelled his visit to Denmark because there was no interest in discussing selling Greenland @BBCRadio4 Is this some sort of joke? Deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark.

The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that Trump had raised the possibility of buying Greenland, and he confirmed Sunday that such a purchase had been discussed because of the island's strategic location and natural resources.

“Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done," Trump said. "It’s hurting Denmark very badly, because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss.”

He later tweeted a meme of a Trump Tower–style skyscraper in a settlement in Greenland.

But any such sale was firmly ruled out by Denmark and Greenland, which is self-governing in all respects apart from foreign policy and defense.

Speaking in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, on Sunday, Frederiksen said the sale of Greenland was not even up for discussion, pointing out, for one thing, that Greenland belongs to Greenland, not Denmark.

“Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over," she told a TV reporter. "Let’s leave it there.”

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