WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday (Aug 20) that he is postponing a planned meeting with Denmark's Prime Minister due to her lack of interest in selling Greenland to the United States.
Mr Trump’s decision confirms just how interested he was in purchasing Greenland, an idea that had initially been dismissed as a joke by some, but which the White House later insisted had a serious purpose because of the territory’s strategic location.
"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," Mr 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!" the US President wrote.
A White House spokesman confirmed that "the visit to Denmark is cancelled".
The Wall Street Journal first reported that Mr Trump had expressed interest in the self-governing part of Denmark - which is mostly covered in ice - asking advisers if it would be possible for the US to acquire the territory.
The President, a former real estate magnate, has been curious about the area’s natural resources and geopolitical relevance, the paper said.
Mr Trump confirmed on Sunday that he was indeed interested in buying Greenland, 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, Mr Trump replied that "a lot of things could be done".
"Essentially, it's a large real estate deal," he said.
The next day, Mr Trump jokingly promised that he would not build one of his eponymous hotels in Greenland, tweeting a meme depicting the golden Trump International Hotel Las Vegas towering over modest, primary-coloured houses along a rocky coast.
"I promise not to do this to Greenland!" he wrote.
The meme first appeared on Twitter last Thursday with the caption: "Greenland in 10 years."
Denmark colonised the two million square kilometre island in the 18th century. It is home to only about 57,000 people, most of whom belong to the indigenous Inuit community.
Greenland's ministry of foreign affairs insisted last Friday that 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.