Trump calls Danish PM 'nasty' for her comments on Greenland sale

The president called off the visit after the prime minister rebuffed his interest in buying Greenland, a Danish territory.

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By Matt Korade and Adam Edelman

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen "nasty" and accused her of not showing respect to the U.S. after she rebuffed his interest in buying Greenland, a Danish territory.

"I thought that the prime minister’s statement, that it was 'absurd,' that it was 'an absurd idea,' it was nasty, I thought it was an inappropriate statement," Trump told reporters before departing the White House for a speech to a veterans group in Kentucky. "All she had to do is say 'no, we wouldn’t be interested, but we can’t treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama.'"

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

Frederiksen had called the idea "absurd" and said “thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over." Earlier in the day Wednesday, she had expressed “regret and surprise” that Trump had canceled his early September visit to her country because of her comments.

Frederiksen said at a news conference that she had been "looking forward to having a dialogue on the many shared interests that Denmark has with U.S.," including developments in the Arctic, which "call for further cooperation between the U.S. and Greenland, Faroe Islands and Denmark.”

“And therefore, I would like to underline our invitation for stronger cooperation on Arctic affairs still stands,” she said.

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Trump’s proposal to purchase the autonomous Danish territory, however, “has clearly been rejected” by Greenland's prime minister, Kim Kielsen, and herself, Frederiksen said.

“This does not change the character of our good relations, and we will of course, from Denmark, continue our ongoing dialogue with the U.S. on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing," she said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod on Wednesday about the abrupt cancellation, expressing "appreciation for Denmark's cooperation as one of the United States' allies" and discussing "cooperation with the Kingdom and Denmark — including Greenland."

"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. "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!"

Trump mused about acquiring Greenland from Denmark on Sunday, telling reporters that “it's something we talked about." But he's said it wasn't "number one on the burner" of topics to discuss with Danish officials.

"Denmark essentially owns it. We're very good allies with Denmark," he said. "Strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested, but we'll talk to them a little bit."

Frederiksen, however, said Denmark had no interest in selling.

"Greenland is not for sale," she said Sunday on a visit to Greenland. "Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously."

Danes reacted with surprise and anger after Trump canceled his trip. One Danish politician called on the president to show more respect.

Former President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Denmark next month to speak at a private event, a source familiar with his schedule told NBC News on Wednesday. The visit will be Obama's second to the country in the last 12 months.

Peter Alexander and Shannon Pettypiece contributed.