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Denmark blasts US 'insult' of military buildup in Greenland

US Air Force 1st Lt. Ariel Torgerson, left, issues the oath of enlistment to Staff Sgt. Eric Jennings in view of Mount Dundas in Greenland. (Via USAF)

Danish politicians have decried the United States’ offer to provide financial aid to Greenland — the autonomous Danish territory — in an effort to boost US military presence in the Arctic region.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Thursday that it had allocated a $12.1 million economic package to Greenland, saying it wants to boost diplomatic ties with the territory and strengthen US military presence across the Arctic.

“Our goal is to be the partner of choice for Arctic states,” said a senior state department official.

The package will “sort of jumpstart this new beginning — this rebirth, if you will — of our engagement in Greenland, and it includes some assistance in a few different areas,” the official added.

The move came less than a year after Trump caused a row with Denmark for expressing an interest in buying Greenland. “Essentially it’s a large real estate deal,” Trump had said in August last year.

Denmark rebuffed the offer, though.

Trump’s latest offer for his country’s greater presence in Greenland has once again enraged officials in both Greenland and Denmark on Thursday.

The United States has “clearly crossed the line," said Karsten Honge, member of the Danish parliament's foreign affairs committee for the Socialist People's Party.

"It's completely unheard of that a close ally tries to create division between Greenland and Denmark this way," he told Reuters.

Soren Espersen, a member of the committee from the opposition party, the Danish People's Party, described Washington’s offer as "an insult" to Greenland and Denmark.

Greenlanders also said Washington’s investment in the region had to come without conditions.

The US is also planning to open a consulate in Greenland's capital Nuuk this year, for the first time since 1953.

Many other politicians say Washington’s move to boost its presence in Greenland is “extremely provocative” interference.

The vast mineral-rich island, which contains 10 percent of the world’s fresh water, relies on annual grants from Copenhagen.

Greenland, home to 56,000 people, is becoming increasingly important for Trump as both Russia and China have started commercial and military buildup in the Arctic.

Russia has recently outlined a 15-year strategy to develop huge new energy projects in the remote territory.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order —Principles of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic to 2035 — to set out Moscow’s policy plans for the Arctic in the next 15 years.

Everything must be done to ensure that the Arctic remains "a territory of peace, stable and mutually beneficial partnerships,” according to the document.

This comes as the US plans what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations — similar to those in the South China Sea — in the North Atlantic and the Arctic.

China, as another major world power, is not currently planning for a military presence in the region, but it has been focusing on energy and resources, via investment in Arctic countries.

The current race for an increasing presence in the region comes as the North Pole is plagued by an unprecedented heatwave, which is threatening a global rise in sea levels.

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