Blinken to seek Arctic cooperation in Greenland

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, seen on May 10, 2021, will visit Greenland to seek greater cooperation as climate change transforms the Arctic

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Greenland next week to seek cooperation as climate change rapidly transforms the Arctic, expanding roles for China and Russia, the State Department said Friday.

The trip will come on the heels of his already announced visit to Iceland for an Arctic Council meeting where Blinken will hold his first meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov amid a range of tension between the two powers.

Blinken will start the trip Sunday in Denmark, of which Greenland is an autonomous territory, two years after an unusual but bitter row when then-president Donald Trump said he wanted to buy the vast island.

The top US diplomat will meet Greenland's full leadership on the stop Thursday in Kangerlussuaq, the sparsely populated island's main transport hub.

"They will discuss the strong partnership between the United States and Greenland and our shared commitment to increase cooperation in the Arctic," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

In Copenhagen, Blinken will meet Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and other Danish leaders as well as businesspeople on issues including "combating the climate crisis," including the development of new technologies, Price said.

Climate change has quickly opened up once unpenetrable waterways in the Arctic, paving the way both for shipping and greater conflict among major powers.

In a speech last month, Blinken warned that Russia "is exploiting this change to try to exert control over new space," including through modernizing bases, and also pointed to a growing presence of China.

Unlike the Trump, President Joe Biden has put a major priority on fighting climate change, setting an ambitious goal of more than halving US greenhouse emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels.

Blinken's predecessor Mike Pompeo, in a 2019 appearance before the Arctic Council, similarly warned about Russia and China but said that melting ice caps offered "new opportunities for trade," while not directly addressing climate change.

Pompeo last year canceled a planned visit to Greenland but traveled to Denmark to move past tensions.

In 2019, Frederiksen said that Trump's offer to buy Greenland -- which was not up for sale -- was "absurd," leading the realtor turned president to call her response "nasty" and scrap a visit to Copenhagen.

sct/dw