COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The United States wants to invest in Greenland to enhance its "military operational flexibility and situational awareness", its Department of Defense (DoD) said on Monday.
Greenland is strategically important for the U.S. military and its ballistic missile early warning system, as the shortest route from Europe to North America goes via the Arctic island.
The U.S. intends to "pursue potential strategic investments vigorously, including investments that may serve dual military and civilian purposes", the DoD said in a statement published by the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen.
Greenland picked Denmark as its partner in a planned upgrade of two airports last week, seeking to defuse a diplomatic row over how the projects, of strategic interest to both Washington and Beijing, should be financed.
Greenland is a self-ruling part of the Kingdom of Denmark and while its government decides on most domestic matters, foreign and security policy is handled by Copenhagen.
Denmark has been concerned that a Chinese investment - on the agenda since Greenland's Prime Minister Kim Kielsen visited Beijing last year - could upset its close ally the U.S.
The DoD said in Monday's statement that it intends to analyze and, where appropriate, strategically invest in projects related to the airport infrastructure in Greenland.
The one-page "Statement of Intent" did not go into financial details.
"We welcome the American Statement of Intent, and look forward to discuss details of possible U.S. airport investments in Greenland," Greenland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vivian Motzfeldt, said in a statement.
Greenland's government lost its parliamentary majority as a row between coalition partners escalated last week over how the planned airport projects should be financed.
(Reporting by Teis Jensen, editing by Ed Osmond)