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Trump confirms interest in Greenland, but it's not top priority

Still, the territory of Denmark says it's not for sale.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark has been discussed within his administration because of the strategic benefits for the U.S. and suggested that the semi-autonomous territory is a financial burden to Denmark.

Surprise and confusion greeted a Wall Street Journal report last Thursday that Trump has been raising the subject of buying Greenland in recent weeks. Officials in Greenland have said it's not for sale and Trump allowed Sunday that it's not a priority of his administration.

"It's just something we've talked about," Trump told reporters when asked about the idea. "Denmark essentially owns it. We're very good allies with Denmark. We've protected Denmark like we protect large portions of the world, so the concept came up."

RELATED: Trump has talked about buying Greenland for US

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The U.S. military has operated for decades from Thule Air Base in Greenland, which is situated between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. The northern-most U.S. base is part of the military's global network of radars and other sensors to provide ballistic missile warning and space surveillance.

"Strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested, but we'll talk to them a little bit. It's not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that," the president said.

Trump, who made a fortune in the New York real estate market and owns or licenses properties around the world, appeared to cast the idea from the perspective of a developer.

"Essentially, it's a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done. It's hurting Denmark very badly, because they're losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss," he said.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said Greenland is "a strategic place" with "a lot of valuable minerals."

Trump is expected to visit Denmark in September as part of a trip to Europe.

Facts about Greenland

Here are some fun facts about the island, courtesy of visitgreenland.com.

  • Greenland is 2.16-million square miles, which includes its offshore islands, making it the largest island in the world.
  • Its ice-free area is about the size of Sweden.
  • Humans from various continents have migrated to Greeland since as early as 2,500 BC. Today, about 88% its population is Inuit (whose ancestors arrived from Asia) or mixed Danish and Inuit. The remaining 12% are of European decent, most of which is Danish.
  • All intra-island travel is done by boat, plane, helicopter, snowmobile or dogsled. There are no roads between the towns. 
  • The sun does not set between May 25 and July 25.

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