Donald Trump’s economic adviser has confirmed that the US president “wants to take a look at” buying Greenland.
His interest in the Danish territory emerged this week when he reportedly discussed it in a private meeting with advisers.
Danish politicians poured scorn on the idea, but Trump adviser Larry Kudlow has confirmed it was not a joke.
He told US show Fox News Sunday that Greenland is a “strategic place” with a “lot of valuable minerals”.
“I don’t want to predict an outcome,” said Mr Kudlow. “I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a Greenland purchase.”
He added: “Look, it’s an interesting story. It’s developing, we’re looking at it.”
America has had an air base in Greenland for decades as part of its global network of missile radars and space surveillance.
The island’s foreign ministry tweeted on Friday: “#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.
“We’re open for business, not for sale.”
President Trump is due to visit Denmark in September as part of a European trip but any attempt to raise the idea of buying the huge island is likely to be shot down.
#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. We’re open for business, not for sale❄️🗻🐳🦐🇬🇱 learn more about Greenland on: https://t.co/WulOi3beIC
— Greenland MFA 🇬🇱 (@GreenlandMFA) August 16, 2019
Denmark’s former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who left office in June, laughed off the reports this week.
He said: “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke…but totally our of sesson!” [sic].
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”.
“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.
It is not 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).
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.