Sun, Aug 25, 2019 - Page 5 News List

US eyes Greenland consulate amid increased interest

AP, WASHINGTON

The US is planning to open a consulate in Greenland for the first time in decades amid increased strategic and economic interest in the Danish territory.

The US Department of State said in a letter to the US Congress that re-establishing a consulate in Nuuk is part of a broader plan to increase the US presence in the arctic.

The US has a “strategic interest in enhancing political, economic and commercial relationships across the Arctic region,” the letter to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.

US President Donald Trump sparked a diplomatic dispute with Denmark this week after he proposed that the US buy Greenland and the Danish government rejected the idea.

A permanent diplomatic presence would allow the US to “protect essential equities in Greenland while developing deeper relationships with Greenlandic officials and society,” the letter said.

The consulate would be “a critical component of our efforts to increase US presence in the Arctic and would serve as an effective platform to advance US interests in Greenland,” it added.

Congress would likely have been open to the idea, but after Trump’s criticism of Denmark following its rejection, the proposal will likely gain greater scrutiny.

The US opened a consulate in Greenland in 1940 after the Nazi occupation of Denmark. It closed in 1953. The new one would open next year in the capital of the semi-autonomous territory.

The department said it has already assigned a Greenlandic affairs officer working out of the US embassy in Copenhagen. It now plans to hire locally employed staff in Greenland by fall or soon thereafter, and expects a staff of seven at the consulate next year.

Experts say that establishing a greater US presence in Greenland is not unwarranted, despite the awkward rollout of Trump’s idea.

It is situated in a geographically important region and holds a potential treasure trove of natural gas and rare earth minerals. The US Russia, China and others are showing their interests.

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