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Greenland PM Kielsen forms minority government to end political crisis

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Greenland Prime Minister Kim Kielsen presented a new minority government on Tuesday, ending a political crisis that started when he lost his majority last month with the withdrawal of a pro-independence party.

Prime Minister of Greenland and current leader of the Siumut party Kim Kielsen is seen during the constituent assembly, in Nuuk, Greenland, May 15, 2018. Christian Klindt Soelbeck/Ritzau Scanpix via REUTERS

Kielsen of the social democrat Siumut party told a press conference in the capital Nuuk that he had agreed with the liberal-conservative party Atassut and the separatist, centre-left party Nunatta Qitornai to form a minority government with the support of The Democrats, state broadcaster KNR reported.

A political stalemate on the Arctic island has delayed expansion of major airport projects of strategic interest to both Washington and Beijing and created uncertainty over an ambition to attract foreign investments into its vast hydrocarbon and mineral resources.

Greenland, eager to benefit from growing activity in the Arctic, plans to expand airports in the capital Nuuk, the tourist hub in Ilulissat and at Qaqortoq in southern Greenland to cater for direct flights from Europe and North America.

The Arctic island is a self-ruling part of Denmark, which is concerned that Chinese investment - on the agenda since Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen visited Beijing last year - could upset the United States.

Pro-independence party Partii Naleraq on Sept. 10 withdrew from a coalition formed in May over Denmark’s plan to part-fund the upgrade of two airports.

Kielsen’s Siumut, the two other parties in the coalition, Atassut and Nunatta Qitornai, and the supporting Democrats all back a proposed Danish contribution to the airports.

“I think the new government can survive at least a year,” Mikaa Mered, an Arctic expert and professor at the Ileri institute in Paris.

“Siumut and Kim Kielsen are trying to signal investors that they are really committed to their pro-business, pro-mining and pro-uranium platform,” Mered said.

The three parties will hold 13 seats in the 31 seats in parliament.

Kielsen’s Siumut party is the largest party in Greenland. The second biggest party Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) was left out of the coalition.

Greenland relies on fishing and annual grants from Denmark.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Emil Gjerding Nielson, Editing by William Maclean