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GREENLAND

Trump cancels visit after Denmark dismisses Greenland sale

US president Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he is postponing a planned meeting with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen after she ruled out selling Greenland to the United States.

Trump cancels visit after Denmark dismisses Greenland sale
US president Donald Trump, here speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on August 20th, has postponed his state visit to Denmark. Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix

“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.

“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!” he added.

Trump has been invited by Queen Margrethe to officially visit Denmark, with the state visit scheduled for September 2nd and 3rd.

The US president confirmed Sunday that he was interested in buying Greenland, a self-governing part of Denmark, but said it was not a priority for his administration.

“It's something we talked about,” he told reporters.

“The concept came up and I said certainly, strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested, but we'll talk to (Denmark) a little bit,” he said, stressing that it was “not number one on the burner” for the government.

When asked if he would consider trading a US territory for Greenland, Trump replied that “a lot of things could be done.”

“Essentially, it's a large real estate deal,” he said.

Greenland's ministry of foreign affairs insisted Friday the island was ready to talk business, but was not for sale. 

“Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism,” it tweeted. 

“We're open for business, not for sale,” it added.

Denmark reacted initially with incredulity to last week’s reports Trump wanted to buy the icy northern territory.

Frederiksen on Sunday called the idea an “absurd discussion”.

“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish, Greenland is Greenlandic. I sincerely hope this is not something that was meant seriously,” Frederiksen said.

Greenland is home to only about 57,000 people, most of whom belong to the indigenous Inuit community. It has had an autonomous government since 2009, with Copenhagen determining its foreign policy.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Denmark should cancel Trump’s state visit

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ENVIRONMENT

Greenland passes law banning uranium mining

Greenland's parliament voted Tuesday to ban uranium mining and exploration in the vast Danish territory, following through on a campaign promise from the ruling left-wing party which was elected earlier this year.

Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement.
Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement. File photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party won snap elections in April that were originally triggered by divisions over a controversial uranium and rare earth mining project.

The IA won 12 seats in the 31-seat Greenlandic national assembly, beating its rival Siumut, a social democratic party that had dominated politics in the island territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

On Tuesday 12 MPs in the national assembly voted to ban uranium mining, with nine voting against. 

The IA had campaigned against exploiting the Kuannersuit deposit, which is located in fjords in the island’s south and is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals.

The project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has not yet been officially abandoned.

But French group Orano announced in May it would not launch exploration despite holding permits to do so.

The massive natural riches of the vast island — measuring two million square kilometres, making it larger than Mexico — have been eyed by many, but few projects have been approved.

The island is currently home to two mines: one for anorthosite, whose deposits contain titanium, and one for rubies and pink sapphires.

While Greenland’s local government is not opposed to all mining activities, it has also banned all oil exploration over concerns for the climate and the environment.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Mute Egede said he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement, which Greenland is one of the few countries not to have ratified.

READ ALSO: Greenland seabed scoured for marine diamonds

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