The Trump administration’s plans to open a US consulate in Greenland are in sync with Washington’s efforts to promote American interests in the area, according to a State Department letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a copy of which was obtained by the AP news agency.
The letter specifically underscored that Washington has a “strategic interest in enhancing political, economic, and commercial relationships across the Arctic region”.
Referring to the possible establishment of a US consulate in Greenland, the State Department suggested that it would help Washington “protect essential equities” in the island while “developing deeper relationships with Greenlandic officials and society”.
The letter described the consulate as “a critical component of our efforts to increase the US presence in the Arctic and […] an effective platform to advance US interests in Greenland”.
The letter comes amid reports that the State Department had already assigned a Greenlandic affairs officer and that a staff of seven is expected to work at the US Consulate in Greenland in 2020.
Trump-Frederiksen Showdown Over Greenland
The developments follow a brief diplomatic tit-for-tat between US President Donald Trump and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen after last week’s reports about Trump expressing a “strategic” interest in purchasing Greenland.
On Wednesday, Frederiksen reaffirmed her view that the island was not for sale, adding that she was “disappointed and surprised” by Trump’s decision to postpone his visit to Denmark over Copenhagen’s reluctance to discuss the matter. Earlier, Frederiksen had slammed the US President’s push to buy Greenland an “absurd discussion,” expressing “strong hope” that “this is not meant seriously”.
Trump, for his part, described the Danish Prime Minister’s statement earlier this week as “nasty”, noting that “it was not a nice way of doing it”. A U-turn took place on Friday, when Trump touted his phone conversation with Frederiksen, praising her as a “wonderful woman”.
“[Frederiksen] called me,[…] we had a great conversation. We have a very good relationship with Denmark and we agreed to speak later. But she was very nice. She put a call in, and I appreciated it very much”, Trump told reporters Friday before leaving for the G7 Summit in France.
The US opened a consulate in Greenland in 1940 following the Nazi occupation of Denmark, but closed it 1953.
Greenland is an autonomous region within the Kingdom of Denmark which, despite being larger than Mexico, is home to fewer than 60,000 people. Greenland achieved home rule in 1979, with Denmark currently being in charge of the island’s foreign affairs, military issues and constitutional matters.