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Brazil rejects G7 aid on Amazon fires

By Chen Weihua in Biarritz, France | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-28 07:26
A man carries a poster as people start gathering on Monday in Lisbon, Portugal, for a demonstration calling for action to protect the Amazon rainforest. [Photo/Agencies]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday rejected aid from G7 countries to fight wildfires in the Amazon, after the seven leaders concluded their summit on Monday in France's seaside town of Biarritz with a pledge of more than $20 million to combat the horrendous fires.

The leaders of France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States made the aid offer to fight the blazes at the weekend summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron insisted the fires should be a top item on their agenda.

Macron and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who was invited to the summit, announced the contribution on Monday. "We must respond to the call of the forest which is burning today in the Amazon," said Macron.

He said the G7 nations also agreed to support a medium-term reforestation plan.

But Onyx Lorenzoni, chief of staff to Bolsonaro told Macron to take care of "his home and his colonies", according to the G1 Globo news website.

"We appreciate (the aid offer), but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe," he said.

"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?"

Brazilian environment Minister Ricardo Salles had earlier told reporters they had welcomed the G7 funding to fight the fires that have swept across 950,000 hectares and prompted the deployment of the army.

Macron has threatened to block the new trade deal between the European Union and several South American countries reached in June unless Bolsonaro takes serious steps to protect the Amazon.

On Twitter, Bolsonaro described the G7 plan as an attack on his country's sovereignty.

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