“The fact is that I was very long ago asked to give the keynote speech at the annual conference of the Nordic trades unions movement and, as everybody knows, I have made workplace matters a personal issue,” she told the outlet. “It is also a fact that this visit that was organised by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has been bouncing a lot around the calendar so that it has been very difficult to organize oneself around it.”
Jakobsdottir’s politics differ sharply from Trump’s and Pence’s. A member of the country’s Left-Green Party and an avowed feminist, she supports abortion and LGBT rights. She downplayed the notion that her absence during Pence’s visit was a snub or an act of protest.
“Absolutely not,” she told RUV. “I had a good meeting with Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, earlier this year and also had a discussion with Donald Trump at the NATO meeting last year. I can promise everyone that when Mike Pence comes here — and I am working on the assumption that the date is now firm — that he will meet a top-ranking team of Icelandic leaders.”
Pence is expected to highlight Iceland’s importance to NATO during his visit.
Jakobsdottir’s trip abroad was finalized before Trump said Tuesday that he would cancel a state visit to nearby Denmark when that country said it would not entertain the sale of Greenland, an autonomous island that is part of the kingdom of Denmark.
Trump continued to press the issue Wednesday, saying Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had made “nasty” comments about his interest in having the United States purchase Greenland.
“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off,” Trump said. “She shouldn’t treat the United States that way. … She said ‘absurd.’ That’s not the right word to use.”
Historian Thor Whitehead told the Associated Press that he thought Jakobsdottir’s decision was “unprecedented.”
“I doubt any other Western leader would decide to address a friendly conference abroad instead of welcoming a major foreign ally,” he said.