Shock in Denmark after Trump, spurned over Greenland, cancels visit

COPENHAGEN, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Danes expressed shock and disbelief on Wednesday over U.S. President Donald Trump's cancellation of a state visit to Denmark after its prime minister rebuffed his interest in purchasing Greenland.

Trump's proposal at first elicited incredulity and humor from politicians in Denmark, a NATO ally of the United States, with former premier Lars Lokke Rasmussen saying: "It must be an April Fool's Day joke."

But the mood turned to shock when Trump called off the Sept. 2-3 visit after Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called his idea of the United States buying Greenland, an autononomus Danish territory, "absurd."

"Total chaos with @realDonaldTrump and cancellation of state visit to Denmark. It has gone from a big opportunity for strengthened dialog between allies to a diplomatic crisis," former foreign minister Kristian Jensen, a member of the opposition Liberal Party, said on Twitter.

"Everyone should know Greenland is not for sale," Jensen said of the world's largest island, which has considerable mineral wealth and a U.S. military presence at the Thule Air Base under a U.S.-Danish treaty dating to 1951.

Frederiksen, who had been due to hold talks with Trump in Copenhagen, was unavailable for a comment as she was traveling after a visit to Greenland and Iceland earlier this week.

She said earlier this week Greenland was "not for sale" and she hoped Trump's proposal was "not meant seriously."

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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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"It is very, very shocking, when it is about a very close ally and a good friend," Soren Espersen, the foreign affairs spokesman for the hard right Danish People's Party, told Danish news agency Ritzau.

He described Trump's cancellation as an offense to Queen Margrethe, Denmark's head of state, and that he did not expect another visit by the U.S. president would happen.

Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were formally invited to Denmark by Queen Margrethe in July.

"It shows why we now more than ever should consider (fellow) European Union countries as our closest allies. The man is unpredictable," said Morten Ostergaard, leader of the Danish Social Liberal Party. "Reality surpasses imagination."

Trump, whose "America First" policies have resulted in strained relations with the EU over trade and other issues, said on Sunday that a U.S. purchase of Greenland would be "a large real estate deal," though not an immediate priority.

"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," Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Greenland, which is gaining attention from world powers including China, Russia and the United States due to its strategic location and mineral resources, is self-governing but depends on Denmark for economic support.

Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, a lawmaker from Greenland's opposition party Inuit Ataqatigiit party, said she was not surprised at the cancellation but it underlined the territory's importance.

"The U.S. is an interesting ally for Greenland, but we also wish for Greenland to remain in the union we have today," she told Reuters.

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