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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: This is a general view of Nuuk (Greenland), September 11, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

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By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

NUUK, Greenland (Reuters) – Greenland said on Wednesday it had agreed a new economic aid package with the United States which seeks to boost ties the world’s biggest island and strengthen U.S. military presence in the Arctic.

Washington does have a Greenland-based military base. However, it has been ignoring the Arctic for the past two decades. The United States started to pay more attention to this region in 2019 to stop a Russian or Chinese military and commercial buildup.

USAid’s $10 million aid package was announced Wednesday. The main purpose of the package is to support Greenland’s education, tourism, and mining sectors.

In an interview with Reuters, Pele Broberg (the minister of industry and foreign affairs) said that while it isn’t a large amount, the symbolism behind the aid package from USAid worth $10 million was very significant.

This package is in addition to a $12.1million package that Washington announced last year. It was criticised by Copenhagen as causing division between Greenland, Denmark and Greenland.

Greenland, which is only home to 57,000 inhabitants but has a wealth of natural resources, was once an American colony. Now it is an independent Danish territory.

In 2019, former President Donald Trump attempted to buy Greenland. This brought it international attention. In Greenland last year, the United States opened its consulate. This is where they have had a base military that has been vital for their ballistic missile early detection system.

In April, Greenland elected an entirely new government that pledged to stop a massive Chinese-supported rare earth mining operation. It contains radioactive Uranium. It was viewed as an opportunity to transform the small country’s economy.

Broberg from a pro-independence group said, “It does have some ripple effects that say no to Uranium Mining, but we believe there are other areas that could be developed.

Denmark provides annual grants totaling around $600 millions to the island, whose economy is heavily dependent upon fishing. Some see Denmark’s relationship as a hindrance to their economic growth.

“We don’t get the support that Denmark needs to prosper,” Broberg said. Broberg explained that now, we are trying to find our own paths without Denmark and starting from small.

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