US to open Greenland consulate amid Trump’s interest

The administration of US President Donald Trump is planning to open an American consulate in Greenland for the first time since 1953 amid increased strategic and economic interest in the Danish territory.

The US State Department says in a letter to Congress that re-establishing a consulate in Nuuk is part of a broader plan to increase the US presence in the arctic and develop deeper relationships with Greenlandic officials.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter by the State Department on Friday.  

The US has a “strategic interest in enhancing political, economic, and commercial relationships across the Arctic region,” said the letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A permanent diplomatic presence would allow the US to “protect essential equities in Greenland while developing deeper relationships with Greenlandic officials and society,” the letter said.

Trump provoked a diplomatic dispute with US-ally Denmark this week after he proposed that the US purchase Greenland and the Danish government rejected the idea.

Greenland is the world’s largest island and a semi-autonomous region of Denmark

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called it an “absurd discussion.” Trump reacted furiously, saying her comments were “nasty” and canceling a planned trip to Copenhagen.

On Friday, though, Trump reversed course, saying he had spoken with Frederiksen and called her “a wonderful woman.”

“We had a great conversation, he told reporters before leaving the White House for the G7 summit in France. “We have a very good relationship with Denmark. … Very nice. She put a call in and I appreciated it very much.”

The US opened a consulate in Greenland in 1940 after Nazi Germany occupied Denmark. It closed in 1953. The new one would open next year in the capital of Greenland.

Experts say establishing a greater US presence in Greenland is economically justified. It is situated in a geographically important region and holds a potential treasure trove of natural gas and rare earth minerals.

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