Trump slams Dan­ish PM, drops trip

Pres­i­dent calls re­ply of US in­ter­est to buy Green­land ‘nasty’

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Rick Noack and John Wag­ner

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Donald Trump on Wed­nes­day at­tacked Dan­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mette Fred­erik­sen, say­ing she had made “nasty” com­ments about his in­ter­est in hav­ing the United States pur­chase Green­land.

Trump an­nounced Tues­day night that he was abruptly call­ing off a planned two-day state visit to Copenhagen next month over Fred­erik­sen’s re­fusal to en­ter­tain the sale of Green­land, a self-gov­ern­ing coun­try that is part of the king­dom of Den­mark.

Fred­erik­sen told re­porters Wed­nes­day she was sur­prised by Trump’s change in plans and also lamented the missed op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate the his­toric al­liance be­tween Den­mark and the United States, say­ing prepa­ra­tions for the visit had been “well un­der­way.”

Fred­erik­sen called the idea of the sale of Green­land “ab­surd” over the week­end af­ter news broke of Trump’s in­ter­est — a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion that ap­par­ently of­fended him.

“I thought it was not a nice state­ment, the way she blew me off,” Trump told re­porters Wed­nes­day at the White House. “She shouldn’t treat the United States that way ... She said ‘ab­surd.’ That’s not the right word to use.”

Trump noted that others had also floated the idea of a U.S. pur­chase of Green­land, in­clud­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man.

Later, af­ter de­part­ing on a trip to Ken­tucky, Trump wrote on Twit­ter that de­spite be­ing “a wealthy coun­try,” Den­mark was fall­ing short of a NATO goal for de­fense spend­ing.

A Trump ad­viser said the pres­i­dent was an­noyed at planned back-to-back trips to Europe and the ex­ten­sive fly­ing in­volved and that the com­ments by Fred­erik­sen gave him a rea­son to can­cel the Den­mark leg. Trump is sched­uled to leave later this week for a Group of Seven sum­mit in France.

“He is not look­ing for­ward to any of it,” said the ad­viser, who spoke to Trump this week and re­quested anonymity to share a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion.

It re­mained un­clear whether Trump will still go to Poland, as he had been sched­uled to do for two days ahead of his trip to Copenhagen in early Septem­ber.

Trump’s pub­lic com­ments Wed­nes­day struck a dif­fer­ent tone than Tues­day night, when he said in a tweet that Den­mark is “a very spe­cial coun­try with in­cred­i­ble peo­ple” and he thanked Fred­erik­sen for “be­ing so di­rect.”

Speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence in Copenhagen, Fred­erik­sen said Trump’s de­ci­sion to can­cel his trip would not “change the char­ac­ter of our good re­la­tions,” adding that an in­vi­ta­tion “for stronger co­op­er­a­tion on Arc­tic af­fairs still stands.”

Her mea­sured re­marks stood in con­trast with Dan­ish law­mak­ers from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum and for­mer gov­ern­ment min­is­ters who slammed the pres­i­dent’s be­hav­ior as ju­ve­nile, undiplo­matic and in­sult­ing.

“It’s an in­sult from a close friend and ally,” said Michael Aas­trup Jensen, a mem­ber of the Dan­ish par­lia­ment with the in­flu­en­tial cen­ter-right Ven­stre party. He said Trump’s in­ter­est in pur­chas­ing Green­land took the coun­try by sur­prise and was ini­tially widely con­sid­ered to be a joke, be­fore Danes re­al­ized the full ex­tent of “this disas­ter.”

Jensen said Dan­ish law­mak­ers felt mis­led and “ap­palled” by the pres­i­dent, who “lacks even ba­sic diplo­matic skills,” he said. “There was no word (ahead of time) about: ‘I want to buy Green­land and that’s why I’m com­ing.’ ”

On Twit­ter, Den­mark’s for­mer business min­is­ter, Ras­mus Jarlov, wrote: “For no rea­son Trump as­sumes that (an au­ton­o­mous) part of our coun­try is for sale. Then in­sult­ingly can­cels visit that ev­ery­body was pre­par­ing for.”

“Please show more re­spect,” he added.

The an­nounce­ment of Trump’s change of plans came two days af­ter he told re­porters that own­ing Green­land “would be nice” for the United States strate­gi­cally. Though Green­land’s sta­tus was ini­tially not pub­licly cited as a sched­uled topic dur­ing his visit to Den­mark, the post­pone­ment of that trip over re­sis­tance to his ac­qui­si­tion plans now sug­gest that it was Trump’s cen­tral fo­cus in the first place.

Dan­ish of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the royal palace, had rushed to or­ga­nize the pres­i­den­tial visit, which was an­nounced on short no­tice.

Trump had planned to dine with Den­mark’s queen be­fore meet­ings in Copenhagen with Dan­ish po­lit­i­cal lead­ers. Be­fore news of Trump’s in­ter­est in Green­land, his visit was seen as an off­beat thank-you to a small coun­try that has been a stal­wart NATO mem­ber and that sup­ported U.S. mil­i­tary ac­tions.

Cen­ter-right law­maker Jensen called the abrupt can­cel­la­tion “an in­sult to the royal house.”

Other law­mak­ers cited by Dan­ish me­dia out­lets ques­tioned if the pres­i­dent was still wel­come in the coun­try.

“Trump lives on an­other planet. Self-suf­fi­cient and dis­re­spect­ful,” wrote Pernille Skip­per, a left-wing Dan­ish politi­cian, on Twit­ter.

Fred­erik­sen joined a grow­ing list of pub­lic fig­ures — mostly women — whose words and deeds Trump has de­scribed as “nasty” since en­ter­ing pol­i­tics. Others in­clude the 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, D-Calif., San Juan Mayor Car­men Yulin Cruz, Cana­dian For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land and Bri­tish royal fam­ily mem­ber Meghan Markle.

Dur­ing the 2016 GOP pres­i­den­tial pri­mary, Trump also em­ployed the term to de­scribe some of his ri­vals, in­clud­ing Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Trump dubbed “Nasty Ted Cruz.”

MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/AP

Dan­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mette Fred­erik­sen com­ments on Pres­i­dent Trump’s trip can­cel­la­tion Wed­nes­day in Copenhagen.

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