PORTO VELHO: The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, said Tuesday that he was open to discuss the G7's help in fighting fires that devastated the Amazon rainforest, only if his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, "withdraws insults" against him.
Bolsonaro's comments come in the midst of a growing war of words with Macron about the worst fires in years that sparked a worldwide protest and threatened to torpedo a large trade agreement between the European Union and the South American countries.
Closer to home, the atmosphere was more harmonious, with the president of the United States, Donald Trump, provoking a grateful tweet from his Brazilian counterpart for defending Bolsonaro's much criticized response to the flames.
A senior Brazilian official had previously rejected the offer of $ 20 million from G7 countries to fight fires that devastated the forest in Brazil and Bolivia, saying that Macron should take care of "his home and his colonies." "Mr. Macron must remove the insults he made against me," Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital, Brasilia. "To speak or accept anything from France, with the best possible intentions, you have to withdraw these words, and from there we can speak."
Macron and Bolsonaro have repeatedly blocked the horns last week, with the French leader accusing Bolsonaro of lying to him about his commitments on climate change and promising to block the EU-Mercosur trade agreement that involves Brazil, which took decades to negotiate.
The latest official figures show that 1,659 new fires started in Brazil between Sunday and Monday, bringing the total this year to 82,285, the highest since at least 2013, even when airplanes and military troops help fight fires. More than half of the fires are in the huge Amazon basin.
In the state of Rondonia, in the northwest of the country, thick smoke has suffocated the capital Porto Velho in recent days as fires blacken the fringes of the rainforest.
Published on Dawn, August 28, 2019