The United States President, Donald Trump has confirmed that he is interested in buying Greenland, saying it would essentially be a large real estate deal.

Asked on Sunday about reports that he was exploring the purchase of the 850,000 square mile island from Denmark, Trump said he was considering the option as it would strategically be nice for the US.

Trump’s interest in the Danish territory emerged last weekend when he reportedly discussed it in a private meeting with advisers.

However, Danish politicians have lashed out at the idea, with the country’s former Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen describing it as an ‘April Fool’s Day joke’. However, that does not appear to have discouraged Trump.

Speaking to reporters in New Jersey, Trump said: “It is something we talked about. Denmark essentially owns it. We are very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world.

“The concept came up. Strategically, it would be interesting. We’ll talk to them a little bit. It is not number one on the burner at the minute, I can tell you that.

“A lot of things could be done, essentially it is a large real estate deal. It’s hurting Denmark very badly because they are losing almost $700 million a year carrying it.”

In apparent response to the reports, the island’s foreign ministry tweeted on Friday that: “#Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism. We’re open for business, not for sale.”

Before Trump confirmed he was interested in buying Greenland, Soren Espersen, a foreign affairs spokesperson for the Danish People’s Party told reporters that if Trump was serious about the idea, then it would be the final proof that he has gone mad.

“The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous,” Espersen added.

This is not the first time a US president has raised the idea of purchasing the island. In 1946, president Harry Truman offered to buy Greenland for $100 million.

Situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, Greenland  is a self-ruling part of Denmark but dependant on Danish economic support. It however handles its own domestic affairs while Copenhagen oversees its defence and foreign policy.