US opens a consulate in Greenland, a year after a bid to buy

The U.S. has recently sought to boost ties to Greenland.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference in the Press Briefing Room at the State Department. (Ron Przysucha / U.S. Department of State via Deutsche Presse-Agentur)

WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday reopened a consulate in Greenland, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, in an apparent bid to shore up Washington’s presence in the Arctic region amid a power competition with China and Russia.

The move reflects “America’s commitment to deepening our cooperation with the people of Greenland and the entire Kingdom of Denmark,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“Our presence in [Greenland’s capital] Nuuk will enhance the prosperity we share with our friends in Denmark and Greenland, as we work together with other Arctic allies and partners to ensure the stability and sustainability of development in the region.”

The move comes as the U.S. promises a $12 million economic aid package to Greenland. It also comes after U.S. President Donald Trump last year said he wanted to buy the territory, a bid that was promptly rejected. The president then cancelled a state visit to Denmark.

The administration viewed the bid as a “large real estate deal,” in language that harkened back to Trump’s previous job as a property developer.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the idea “absurd,” in response to which Trump called her “nasty.” Diplomacy later prevailed and the countries put aside the dispute.

Greenland, which occupies a strategic location in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, is mostly self-ruled, though Denmark remains in charge of foreign affairs, defense and monetary policy.

The U.S. last had a consulate in Nuuk during the 1940s and 1950s, in part to have a position in the region to defend against Nazi Germany.

Reporting by Sophie Wingate in New York.