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Former Danish Leader Attacks Trump for Comments on Defense Spending


Former Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen speaks at a joint news conference as part of a meeting with Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the federal chancellery in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Former Danish Leader Attacks Trump for Comments on Defense Spending
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A former Danish prime minister has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump over a recent Twitter message about military spending. Lars Loekke Rasmussen said that defense willingness is not just about the amount of money spent.

His comments are the latest in a growing argument between American and Danish politicians.

Trump announced on Tuesday he was canceling his planned visit to Denmark because current Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was “nasty” when she wholly rejected his idea of buying Greenland.

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses the media regarding U.S. President Donald Trump's cancellation of his visit to Denmark, in Copenhagen, Denmark, August 21, 2019. Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen via REUTERS
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses the media regarding U.S. President Donald Trump's cancellation of his visit to Denmark, in Copenhagen, Denmark, August 21, 2019. Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen via REUTERS

Loekke Rasmussen led the country until June, when Frederiksen took office. The former leader tweeted to Trump on Thursday: “We have had (proportionally) exactly the same numbers of casualties in Afghanistan as US. We always stands firm and ready.”

Trump had earlier written on Twitter that Denmark only commits 1.35 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to defense. He wants all NATO members to give at least 2 percent.

“We will not accept that our defense willingness is only about percentages,” Loekke Rasmussen tweeted. “I told you at the NATO Summit in Brussels last year.”

Trump was expected to visit Denmark early next month. The cancellation of his trip came after Frederiksen called the American president’s wish to buy Greenland from her country “an absurd discussion.”

Trump said the prime minister’s comment “was nasty…all she had to say was ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested.’”

Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen also has rejected the idea of the United States buying the territory. He told the Associated Press this week the idea is “not something to joke about.”

Greenland, a self-ruling Danish territory, is the world’s largest island. It sits in the Arctic. As the Earth warms, Greenland’s oil and other natural resources are becoming increasingly easier to find and remove. Russia, China, the United States, Canada and other countries are trying to claim Arctic lands.

In this image taken on June 13, 2019 small pieces of ice float in the water off the shore in Nuuk, Greenland.
In this image taken on June 13, 2019 small pieces of ice float in the water off the shore in Nuuk, Greenland.

The United States has a military presence in Greenland. Under a 1951 defense treaty with the United States and Denmark, it operates the Thule Air Base. The base houses a radar station that is part of a missile defense system.

Frederiksen said this week that Denmark does not own Greenland. It belongs to its people, she said. Although it is a part of the Danish kingdom, it has its own government and parliament. Greenland has a population of 56,000 people. Most of them are indigenous Inuits.

The island was a Danish colony from 1775 until 1953, when Denmark changed its constitution and made the island a province. Denmark continues to decide its foreign and defense policies.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. The U.S. State Department said Pompeo “expressed appreciation for Denmark’s cooperation as one of the United States’ allies.”

Kofod later wrote on Twitter, “U.S. and Denmark are close friends and allies with [a] long history of active engagement across [the] globe.”

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in this Story

nasty – adj. unpleasant

absurd – adj. extremely silly, foolish, or unreasonable

proportionally – adj. having parts that are the correct or appropriate size in relation to each other

casualty n. a person who is hurt or killed during an accident, war,

kingdom – n. a country whose ruler is a king or queen

indigenous – adj. produced, living, or existing naturally in a particular region or environment

province – n. any one of the large parts that some countries are divided into

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