Denmark welcomes US consulate opening in Greenland's Nuuk

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The picture taken on July 5, 2013 shows the melting glaciers on the west coast of Nuuk, capital of Greenland. [Photo/Xinhua]

Political opinions throughout Denmark have welcomed the proposal of a U.S. Consulate opening in Nuuk, Greenland's capital.

"We think it's quite a good idea," Soeren Espersen, Foreign Ministry spokesperson of the right-wing Danish People's Party, said on Sunday.

The U.S. State Department, in a letter sent to Congress Thursday, said a U.S. Consulate in Greenland would be "a critical component of our efforts to increase U.S. presence in the Arctic and would serve as an effective platform to advance U.S. interests in Greenland."

Denmark and Greenland's warm response to the news may come as a surprise to international readers, especially in the wake of the U.S. President Donald Trump's earlier proposal to purchase Greenland from Denmark and his reaction to the Danish prime minister's rejection to his offer.

"The consulate is nothing new. They did it during World War II. Denmark has its own consulates; 10 to 12 consulates all around the U.S. It's all part of strengthening the cooperation between our two countries so we have absolutely no objections to that," said Soeren Espersen.

Asked if he agreed with analysts in the Danish news media, who questioned if Trump's proposal to purchase Greenland was in part due to Danish unwillingness to take Greenland's strategic importance seriously, Espersen replied "Well, from a military angle we don't", adding "Maybe we have worked too little on strengthening the Kingdom. We have neglected this for some years and I think what happened has been a wake-up call."

Meanwhile, the Greenland government of Naalakkersuisut, enthusiastically welcomed the news of a U.S. consulate opening. "Greenland is a part of North America," said Greenland Minister for Foreign Affairs Ane Lone Bagger.

"We, therefore, welcome the decision of the U.S. government to the reestablishment of a permanent Department of State presence in Nuuk -- we have a lot to discuss. A presence in Nuuk will help the Americans better understand our country and our society, which is a prerequisite for good and fruitful cooperation in the future," said the minister on Greenland's official website on Saturday.

During the past week, Greenland, with just some 56,000 inhabitants, has been forcibly picked up by the "scruff of the neck" and flung unceremoniously into the center of an increasingly intriguing international chessboard of high diplomacy and world attention to Denmark's surprise.

"Denmark has slept for an hour and has not taken the Arctic seriously," Danish news channel TV2 quoted Greenland journalist Walter Turnowsky as saying.

"In addition," said Turnowsky, "Greenland may in the future be better informed about what the U.S. plans are because it is no secret that there have been several frictions in the relationship between the U.S., Greenland, and Denmark over the past many years."

While Greenland Government and Denmark's politicians currently voice the benefits from the growing U.S. attention to Greenland's strategic and economic importance, they are not revealing if they have concerns with the price such attention may have on Greenlanders negotiating their own destiny in the future.

The U.S. State Department's reported letter proposes the re-opening of a consulate in Nuuk, with a population of 18,000, in a year.

The U.S. previously opened a consulate in Greenland in 1940, but it was closed in 1953.

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