Denmark’s youngest ever prime minister has had her job for just over two months. But she’s already making international headlines as the target of Donald Trump’s ire.
On Wednesday, 41-year-old Mette Frederiksen made clear she didn’t want the U.S. president’s decision to cancel a state visit to Denmark to become a diplomatic crisis. Trump, who axed a planned Sept. 2 trip because he wasn’t allowed to buy Greenland, was still welcome to come another time, Frederiksen told reporters in Copenhagen. She also said that the U.S. is one of Denmark’s closest allies.
But Trump lashed out later in the day. Frederiksen’s use of the word “absurd” to characterize reports of his interest in purchasing Greenland, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, was “nasty,” according to the former real estate tycoon.
Frederiksen says she doesn’t feel her words were disrespectful. “I don’t think I have been blunt or harsh in this discussion,” she told state broadcaster DR. “I actually think we have responded very nicely from the Danish side.”
“When you are close allies and good friends, like Denmark and the U.S. are, there should also be room for disagreements along the way,” Frederiksen said. “I hope we can stop this discussion soon.”
Trump says he canceled his trip to Denmark, which was at the invitation of Queen Margrethe II, because of Frederiksen’s choice of words.
“When they say it was absurd — and it was said in a very nasty, very sarcastic way — I said, ‘We’ll make it some other time,’” Trump told reporters. “She’s talking to the United States of America. You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.”
“All she had to do was say, ‘No we wouldn’t be interested,’” Trump said.
In an effort to defuse the tensions, U.S. ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, on Wednesday said that Trump “values and respects” the Danes and is looking forward to a trip at a later date. She added that “great friends and allies” like the U.S. and Denmark “should be able to discuss all issues openly and candidly.”
On Wednesday evening, the State Department said that Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had spoken with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod “regarding the postponement of President Trump’s travel to Denmark.”
The department said in a statement that Pompeo “expressed appreciation for Denmark’s cooperation as one of the United States’ allies and Denmark’s contributions to address shared global security priorities.”
Trump used his attack against Frederiksen to suggest the country isn’t paying what it owes to NATO, of which Denmark is a founding member. The remark drew a sharp response from Frederiksen’s predecessor, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who met with Trump while he was premier.
“As I told you at the NATO summit in Brussels last year, we have had proportionally exactly the same number of casualties in Afghanistan as the U.S. We always stand firm and ready, so we will not accept that our defense willingness is only about percentages.”
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