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Brazil's Bolsonaro open to €18 million G7 offer if Macron 'withdraws insults'

Macron and Bolsonaro have been engaged in a diplomatic spat in recent days.

Jair Bolsonaro has been involved in a diplomatic spat with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Jair Bolsonaro has been involved in a diplomatic spat with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Image: Eraldo Peres/AP/Press Association Images

Updated Aug 27th 2019, 10:16 PM

BRAZIL’S PRESIDENT JAIR Bolsonaro said today that he was open to discussing G7 aid for fighting the fires in the Amazon rainforest – but only if his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron “withdraws insults” made against him. 

Brazilian officials had earlier rejected an €18 million offer of aid from G7 countries to fight ongoing wildfires in the Amazon rainforest.

“Mr Macron must withdraw the insults he made against me,” Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital Brasilia.

“To talk or accept anything from France, with the best possible intentions, he has to withdraw these words, and from there we can talk.” 

Nearly 80,000 forest fires have broken out in Brazil since the beginning of the year, just over half of them in the Amazon basin that acts as a carbon sink and is vital to tackle climate change.

On Monday, Macron criticised the “extraordinarily rude” Bolsonaro after the Brazilian leader personally expressed approval online for a Facebook post implying that Brigitte Macron was not as attractive as his own first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro has hit back, accusing Macron of treating Brazil like “a colony or no-man’s land”.

Hundreds of new fires have flared up in the Brazilian part of the forest, data showed yesterday, even as the county’s military dumped water over hard-hit areas.

The fires have sparked global concerns about the impact that the destruction of the rainforest will have on climate change and protests took place in cities across Brazil and around the world last week.

But despite the ongoing crisis, the country rejected the G7′s offer, with a top Brazilian official telling Macron to take care of “his home and his colonies”.

“We appreciate [the offer], but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe,” Onyx Lorenzoni, chief of staff to President Jair Bolsonaro, told the G1 news website.

“Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site,” he added, referring to the fire in April that devastated the Notre-Dame cathedral. “What does he intend to teach our country?”

The presidency later confirmed the comments to AFP.

brazil-amazon-fires Fresh rainforest beside an area that was burnt recently near the city of Porto Velho Source: Victor R Caivano/PA Images

environmentalists-protest-at-the-brazilian-embassy-paris Climate activists demonstrate in front of the Brazilian embassy in the French capital Paris last week

Brazilian environment Minister Ricardo Salles earlier told reporters that the country welcomed the offer of funding to fight the fires, which have swept across 2.3 million acres of the Amazon rainforest.

But after a meeting between Bolsonaro and his ministers, the Brazilian government changed its mind.

“Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron,” Lorenzoni said.

Trump

Trump tweeted that the Brazilian leader was “working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil – Not easy”. 

Although about 60 percent of the Amazon is in Brazil, the rainforest spreads across eight other countries or territories, including the French overseas territory of Guiana on the northeast coast of South America.

In response, Bolsonaro replied: “We’re fighting the wildfires with great success. Brazil is and will always be an international reference in sustainable development.”

“The fake news campaign built against our sovereignty will not work. The US can always count on Brazil.”

- © AFP 2019

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