NUUK (Reuters) – The United States has agreed to a new package of economic aid to Greenland. The United States wants to strengthen ties with the world’s largest island. Also, as part of the agreement, the military presence in the Arctic will be strengthened.
Washington has a military base in Greenland, but has had little focus on the Arctic for two decades. That changed in 2019 as Russia and China sought to counter trade and military interference in the region.
USAID’s $ 10 million (.5 8.5 million) scholarship was announced on Wednesday, mainly targeting Greenland’s mining, tourism and education growth. “It’s not a huge amount, but it’s very important as a symbol,” said Peele Proberk, Greenland’s Minister of Industry and Foreign Affairs.
That amounts to more than the $ 12.1 million package announced by Washington last year. The set sparked criticism from Copenhagen for causing a rift between Greenland and Denmark. The island is a former colony and is now autonomous Danish territory.
Only 57,000 people live in Greenland. However, the island is rich in natural resources. Former US President Donald Trump sought to buy the island in 2019. Last year, the United States also opened a consulate in Greenland.
Greenland elected a new government in April. It has promised to halt a Chinese-backed rare earth mining project because it contains radioactive uranium. The project was seen as a potential bumper for the country’s small economy.
The economy of Greenland is heavily dependent on fishing. In addition, the country receives about $ 600 million in grants from Denmark each year. Some see the relationship with Denmark as an obstacle to economic growth.
“We did not have the support of Denmark to thrive. So now we are trying to go our own way without Denmark. We are starting small,” Proberg said.
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