What at first appeared to be an offhand comment has had international implications after Donald Trump cancelled a meeting with Denmark’s prime minister over the proposed sale of Greenland.
The US president recently floated the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark, however it remained unclear how serious he was.
On Monday he tweeted an image of a Trump-emblazoned tower looming above a small village and said “I promise not to do this to Greenland!”
Denmark had firmly said the autonomous territory was not for sale, and prime minister Mette Frederiksen called the suggestion “an absurd discussion”.
In response Mr Trump has postponed a September visit to Denmark to meet Queen Margrethe and Ms Frederikson.
He tweeted: “Based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting.”
“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that.”
A spokeswoman for Denmark’s royal palace said Mr Trump’s sudden change of heart was “a surprise”.
Mr Trump has cancelled on Denmark, but is still expected to visit Poland to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.
Greenland is rich in natural resources such as coal, zinc, copper and iron ore, however it has a high unemployment rate and is heavily reliant on Denmark for its budget.
Mr Trump is not the first US leader to consider the purchase – in 1946 Harry Truman offered Denmark $100 million US dollars for the territory.