President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a visit to Denmark next month after the prime minister described his plan to buy Greenland as “absurd” took the Danish royal palace by surprise, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Lene Balleby told The Associated Press Wednesday that the news was “a surprise” to the royal household, which formally had invited Trump to visit Denmark Sep. 2 and 3 as part of a European trip. She had no further comments.
Trump announced his decision by tweet after the Danish prime minister dismissed the notion of selling the semi-autonomous territory to the U.S. as “an absurd discussion.”
“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 said.
There was no immediate reaction from the Danish government. Former government ministers were quick to speak out, however.
Martin Lidegaard, a former foreign minister, told broadcaster TV2 that it was “a diplomatic farce” and said Trump’s behavior was “grotesque” and he was “throwing a … fit.”
Trump’s cancellation was “deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark,” former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt wrote on Twitter.
Claus Oxfeldt, chairman of Denmark’s main police union, told Danish media that authorities had been busy planning the third visit by a sitting U.S. president to the Scandinavian NATO member. “As far as I know, it has created great frustrations to have spent so much time preparing for a visit that is canceled,” Oxfeldt was quoted as saying.
Trump had said that he was interested in buying Greenland for strategic purposes, but said a purchase was not a priority at this time. Both Frederiksen and Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen responded that Greenland is not for sale.
“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,” Trump said. “I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
White House spokesman Judd Deere later confirmed that the visit to Denmark has been canceled. Trump’s visit to Poland is expected to be maintained.