WASHINGTON — President Trump said Sunday the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark has been discussed within his administration because of the strategic benefits for the US and suggested that the semi-autonomous territory is a financial burden to Denmark.
Surprise and confusion greeted a Wall Street Journal report last Thursday that Trump has been raising the subject of buying Greenland in recent weeks. Officials in Greenland have said it’s not for sale and Trump allowed Sunday that it’s not a priority of his administration.
‘‘It’s just something we’ve talked about,’’ Trump told reporters when asked about the idea. ‘‘Denmark essentially owns it. We’re very good allies with Denmark. We’ve protected Denmark like we protect large portions of the world, so the concept came up.’’
Greenland officials, however, seem to be trying to put the kibosh on the notion.
“Greenland isn’t for sale, Greenland isn’t Danish, Greenland is Greenlandic,” Frederiksen said Sunday during a visit to Greenland, Bloomberg News said, citing local newspaper Sermitsiaq. “I keep trying to hope that this isn’t something that was seriously meant.”
The US military has operated for decades from Thule Air Base in Greenland, which is situated between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. The northern-most US base is part of the military’s global network of radars and other sensors to provide ballistic missile warning and space surveillance.
‘‘Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that,’’ the president said.
Trump, who made a fortune in the New York real estate market and owns or licenses properties around the world, appeared to cast the idea from the perspective of a developer.
‘‘Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done. It’s hurting Denmark very badly, because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss,’’ he said.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, appearing on ‘‘Fox News Sunday,’’ said Greenland is ‘‘a strategic place’’ with ‘‘a lot of valuable minerals.’’
“This is an interesting story. It’s developing. We’re looking at it, we don’t know,” Kudlow said. “Years ago, Harry Truman wanted to buy Greenland. Denmark owns Greenland; Denmark is an ally. Greenland is a strategic place up there. They’ve got a lot of valuable minerals. I don’t want to predict an outcome. I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a Greenland purchase.”
Trump is expected to visit Denmark in September as part of a trip to Europe.
When asked if he would bring the topic up on his visit, Trump told reporters late Sunday afternoon, “Maybe.”
“I don’t think Denmark has been absolutely set in stone yet, going there. But if I did I’d certainly talk about it. But not top on the list,” Trump said.
When a reporter asked how much he thinks Greenland is worth, Trump replied, “We haven’t gotten there yet. First we have to find out whether or not they have any interest. Look, they’re losing almost $700 million carrying, that’s a lot of money for Denmark. They’re losing a tremendous amount of money, so we’ll see what happens.”
Pres. Trump would "certainly talk about" Greenland if he were to visit Denmark, but is not "top on the list."— ABC News (@ABC) August 18, 2019
"First we have to find out whether or not they have any interest... They're losing a tremendous amount of money, so we'll see what happens." https://t.co/TL2qomDDxI pic.twitter.com/uiBrfMEIoH
Jaclyn Reiss of the Globe staff contributed to this report.