Donald Trump has reportedly expressed an interest in buying the island of Greenland – sparking a bemused reaction from Danish MPs.

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The US president is said to have discussed a potential purchase of the autonomous Danish territory during a private meeting with aides and advisers. But there appears to be some confusion as to whether the former property developer now president was being serious.

Two unnamed sources told Reuters that some advisers laughed at the idea – believing it was a joke – while others took it more seriously.

Meanwhile, the proposition in Greenland and Denmark has been met with strong resistance.

Greenlandic MP Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, who occupies one of the island’s two seats in the Danish parliament, wrote “no thanks” on Twitter in response, adding that she would rather focus on developing a stronger partnership with Denmark.

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In a later post on Facebook, she said a US rule could be “tempting”, but would ultimately lead to greater inequality on the world’s largest island.

“In Greenland, the inequality is great, and it will grow more if we move from a Nordic to an American welfare society, where one must more or less fend for themselves,” she wrote.

Denmark’s former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who left office in June, dismissed Mr Trump’s bid as an outdated April Fool’s Joke.

He said: “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke…but totally our of sesson!” [sic].

The country’s new prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, is yet to comment on the matter.

Soren Espersen, a foreign affairs spokesperson for the Danish People’s Party, told broadcaster DR that if Mr Trump was serious, it would be “final proof that he has gone mad”.

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“The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous,” he added.

Martin Lidegaard, an MP for the Danish Social Liberal Party and former foreign minister, called the idea “a grotesque proposal”. “We are talking about real people and you can’t just sell Greenland like an old colonial power,” he said.

“But what we can take seriously is that the US stakes and interest in the Arctic is significantly on the rise and they want a much bigger influence,” he added.

Several Danish politicians also suggested that Mr Trump’s proposition of buying land and a population was a little dated.

Pernille Skipper, an MP for Denmark’s left-wing Red-Green Alliance, tweeted: “It says a lot about Trump that he actually believes that one can buy an entire country and a whole people.

“Greenland is for the Greenlanders and this is not the 19th Century. Not for sale!”

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An MP for the centre-right Venstre party, Michael Aastrup, said: “No, Donald Trump – Greenland is not for sale!

“Fortunately, the time when you could just buy areas and people is many years ago.”

This would not be the first time a US president has raised the idea of purchasing the island.

In 1946, president Harry Truman offered to buy Greenland for $100m (£82.4m).

Mr Trump is scheduled to make his first visit to Denmark in early September, but there has been no indication that discussions about a possible purchase of Greenland would be on the agenda.

Greenland, a self-ruling part of Denmark, is dependant on Danish economic support and is situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It handles its own domestic affairs, while Copenhagen heads it defence and foreign policy.

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