TASIILAQ, Greenland (AP) — The government of Greenland said Friday that it’s happy President Donald Trump has taken an interest in the nation, talking to aides and allies about buying the island for the U.S., but that it’s not for sale.
Following reports that Trump had spoken about the notion of buying Greenland, the semiautonomous Danish territory between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans issued a short statement to clarify it wasn’t on the market.
“We see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer,” the government said. “Of course, Greenland is not for sale.”
Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who served as Danish prime minister until June, weighed in on social media, tweeting “it must be an April Fool’s Day joke” and that it was “totally” out of season.
A Trump ally told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Republican president had discussed the purchase but was not serious about it. And a Republican congressional aide said Trump brought up the notion of buying Greenland in conversations with American lawmakers enough times to make them wonder, but they have not taken his comments seriously. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
“Because of the unofficial nature of the news, the government of Greenland has no further comments,” the government said on its website.
The White House hasn’t commented on the reports, but it wouldn’t be the first time an American leader tried to buy the world’s largest island.
In 1946, the U.S. proposed to pay Denmark $100 million to buy Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island.
On Friday, residents in tiny Kulusuk on Greenland’s eastern coast seemed less than impressed with the possibility Trump may want to purchase their nation.
They included Jakob Ipsen, who has something in common with the U.S. president: Both run hotels. Ipsen’s hotel is smaller than a Trump one and provides hands-on service, such as finding boats and driving guests around.
Ipsen noted there’s a history of outsiders unsuccessfully wanting to take over the giant, mostly barren island.
“Never going to happen. They tried in 1867 without luck. They tried after World War II,” Ipsen said. “It didn’t happen then and it’s not going to happen now.”
Miller reported from Washington. Matthew Lee in Washington and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this story.