Why exactly is the US so interested in Greenland?

Pompeo with Frederiksen in the garden of Marienborg Castle north of Copenhagen, on  July 22, 2020.

This was excerpted from the July 23 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)Was it really less than a year ago that we learned Trump wanted to buy Greenland?

Relations between the US and Denmark got frosty back in August 2019, once it came out that Trump's instinct for real estate had been roused by the autonomous territory, which belongs to Denmark. His interest was serious enough that he reportedly brought it up on multiple occasions at dinners and meetings, even prompting the White House counsel's office to research the possibility.
It's never been clear exactly what about Greenland -- which is mostly covered in ice -- appeals to Trump, who prefers things gold-plated. But the territory has long been of strategic military interest, and the US has had an air base there since 1951, with a missile warning system to warn of incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles from, say, Russia.
    And while NATO might be in eternal disfavor with Trump, building up relationships to counter Russia continues. It's "a new day" for the United States and Greenland, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the press at a Wednesday briefing in Copenhagen after meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.
    The US will reopen its consulate in Greenlandic capital Nuuk, and has signed new memorandums of understanding to cooperate in mining and energy there. Most significantly, Pompeo's talks in Copenhagen emphasized security in the Arctic -- a resource-rich part of the world where both China and Russia have long-term ambitions, and to which Greenland makes a great front door.
      Trump last year was so incensed that Frederiksen wouldn't consider selling that he called off a visit. "Based on (her) comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting," he tweeted. "The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct."
      Asked twice by Danish news anchor Johannes Langkilde on Wednesday if the US was still in the market for Arctic islands, Pompeo was anything but direct. "We're trying to get prosperity and security for our good friends here," he said, with a smile.