Danish PM: Trump's idea of buying Greenland is 'absurd'

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Greenland is not for sale and U.S. President Donald Trump's idea of buying the semi-autonomous Danish territory in the Arctic from Denmark is "an absurd discussion," Denmark's prime minister said.

Mette Frederiksen, who was visiting the world's largest island to meet Premier Kim Kielsen, told reporters: "Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant."

Frederiksen said Sunday that the Arctic, with resources that Russia and others could exploit for commercial gain, "is becoming increasingly important to the entire world community."

Retreating ice could uncover potential oil and mineral resources in Greenland which, if successfully tapped, could dramatically change the island's fortunes. However, no oil has yet been found in Greenlandic waters, and 80 percent of the island is covered by an ice sheet that is up to 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) thick, which means exploration is only possible in coastal regions.

Even there, conditions are far from ideal due to the long winter with frozen ports, 24-hour darkness and temperatures regularly dropping below minus 20 Fahrenheit (minus 30 Celsius) in the northern parts.

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Climate change in Greenland
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Climate change in Greenland
Airplane Mechanic, David Fuller (L), works with a local worker to move a NASA Gulfstream III during a pre-flight inspection before a flight to support the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Pilot in Command Tom Parent inspects the exterior of a NASA Gulfstream III during a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft before a flight to support the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Radar Engineer, Ron Muellerschoen, monitors data collection inside a NASA Gulfstream III flying above Greenland to measure loss to the country's ice sheet as part of the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Radar Engineer Ron Muellerschoen (L), Radar Engineer Tim Miller (C) and Pilot in Command Tom Parent discuss issues with an autopilot system while flying inside a NASA Gulfstream III above Greenland to measure loss to the country's ice sheet as part of the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Airplane Mechanic, David Fuller, inspects a NASA Gulfstream III during a pre-flight inspection before a flight to support the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Glacial flow is seen out the window of a NASA Gulfstream III flight to support the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission above the east coast of Greenland, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Earth Science Flight Programs Director at NASA, Eric Ianson, looks out at the Greenland ice sheet while inside a NASA Gulfstream III flying above Greenland to measure loss to the country's ice sheet as part of the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Safety officer Brian Rougeux uses a drill to install antennas for scientific instruments that will be left on top of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
GPS tracking equipment is left on top of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Oceanographer David Holland (C) eats with Denise Holland (L), safety officer Brian Rougeux and student Febin Magar (R) in their science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Glacial ice is seen from the window during a NASA flight to support the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission above the east coast of Greenland, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
An aerial photograph of Oceanographer David Holland's science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Meltwater pools are seen on top of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Meltwater pools are seen on top of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
A glacial terminus is seen from the window during a NASA flight to support the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) research mission above the east coast of Greenland, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Oceanographer David Holland works with student Febin Magar to inspect a seismograph in their science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Safety officer Brian Rougeux carries a piece of a radar dome while working in a science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Oceanographer David Holland repairs a broken GPS module at his research camp above the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Student Febin Magar watches as leftover wood burns in a research camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Safety officer Brian Rougeux works to build a semi-permanent structure in a science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Student Febin Magar watches as safety officer Brian Rougeux burns leftover wood while working in a science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Safety officer Brian Rougeux works with student Febin Magar to assemble a radar dome while working in a science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Safety officer Brian Rougeux works to build a semi-permanent structure in a science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
A large crevasse forms near the calving front of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Denise Holland prepares a meal at a science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Tabular icebergs float in the Sermilik Fjord after a large calving event at the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Safety officer Brian Rougeux unfastens equipment to inspect it while working in a science camp on the side of the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Sunshine lights up the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
Tabular icebergs float in the Sermilik Fjord after a large calving event at the Helheim glacier near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 23, 2018. This portion between the glacier front and the open ocean is known as the "melange" and is filled with ice, snow and icebergs packed together on their way to a fjord and later the ocean. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson 
An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "JACKSON GREENLAND" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson SEARCH "JACKSON GREENLAND" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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Trump is expected to visit Denmark in early September as part of a trip to Europe.

Trump said Sunday that he is interested in the idea, but it's not a priority of his administration.

"Strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested, but we'll talk to them a little bit. It's not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that," the president said.

It wouldn't be the first time an American leader has tried to buy the world's largest island. In 1946, the U.S. proposed to pay Denmark $100 million to buy Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island.

Under a 1951 deal, Denmark allowed the U.S. to build bases and radar stations on Greenland.

The U.S. Air Force currently maintains one base in northern Greenland, Thule Air Force Base, some 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) south of the North Pole. Formerly military airfields in Narsarsuaq, Kulusuk and Kangerlussuaq have become civilian airports.

The Thule base, constructed in 1952, was originally designed as a refueling base for long-range bombing missions. It has been a ballistic missile early warning and space surveillance site since 1961.

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