Brazil looks to neighbours for Amazon support, defends record

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Rodrigo Viga Gaier BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday he would meet with other South American countries to set common policy for defending the Amazon rain forest, while his foreign minister told Reuters the nation should be seen as an environmental hero. In an indication that Bolsonaro, a far-right conservative, is forging closer ties with neighbouring countries than with European nations, he accepted Chile's offer of four aircraft to help fight the fires sweeping through the world's largest rain forest. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said a meeting with regional neighbours except Venezuela to discuss the Amazon would be held on Sept

Reuters August 29, 2019 04:11:06 IST
Brazil looks to neighbours for Amazon support, defends record

Brazil looks to neighbours for Amazon support defends record

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Rodrigo Viga Gaier

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday he would meet with other South American countries to set common policy for defending the Amazon rain forest, while his foreign minister told Reuters the nation should be seen as an environmental hero.

In an indication that Bolsonaro, a far-right conservative, is forging closer ties with neighbouring countries than with European nations, he accepted Chile's offer of four aircraft to help fight the fires sweeping through the world's largest rain forest.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said a meeting with regional neighbours except Venezuela to discuss the Amazon would be held on Sept. 6 in Leticia, Colombia.

In a statement, the two leaders said environmental challenges must be met while respecting "national sovereignty." Each country, it added, should have control over the "rational and sustainable use of their natural resources, in line with their environmental obligations and needs of their citizens, including indigenous peoples."

Pinera, who has a close relationship with Bolsonaro, is an increasingly important figure in the environmental crisis triggered by the Amazon fires, and visited Brasilia on his return from a G7 summit in France where he attended as the rotating representative for Latin America.

Chile will hold the COP25 climate summit in December, having taken it over from the original host, Brazil, after Bolsonaro was elected.

Following a meeting with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo later on Wednesday, Pinera spoke of the need to build out regionwide infrastructure to fight increasingly prevalent forest fires in South America. Pinera said new regional bloc Prosur could contribute to the effort.

Bolsonaro waded back into a spat with France, saying Brazil's sovereignty had "no price, not even $20 trillion," a reference to an offer of $20 million aid announced by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Group of Seven summit of wealthy nations over the weekend. Bolsonaro dismissed the offer as an insulting attempt to "buy" Brazil's sovereignty.

Macron has accused Bolsonaro, a longtime sceptic of environmental concerns, of lying about climate change.

"Only after it (the French government) has recanted what it said about my person, which represents Brazil ... can we talk again," Bolsonaro said.

'NOT THE VILLAIN'

In an interview with Reuters, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said the country supported Bolsonaro in his dispute with Macron.

He also said that Brazil was fighting forest fires like never before and that he hoped "people who legitimately care about the environment see that Brazil is the hero and not the villain."

A Reuters report on Wednesday found that Bolsonaro's government had weakened the federal agency charged with protecting the rain forest through budget cuts, restrictions on destroying equipment used in environmental crime, and the sidelining of an elite force of enforcement agents.

Brazil’s federal government is preparing a presidential decree forbidding fires to clear land in the country during the dry season, the presidency said on Wednesday.

According to one source, Bolsonaro had already agreed to the main terms of the decree.

Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, 44, was admitted to a hospital unit on Tuesday after complaining of feeling unwell.

The Armed Forces Hospital in Brasilia said on Wednesday that the minister was given the all-clear after some medical tests and told to rest for five days.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever and Lisandra Paraguassu; Additional reporting by Aislinn Laing in Santiago and Daniela Desantis in Asuncion; Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Paul Simao and Peter Cooney)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.