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Brazil announces South American meeting on Amazon, accepts Chile's help

File photo of Jair Bolsonaro. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Brasilia Aug 28, 2019, 07.19 PM (IST)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday that South American countries would meet to determine a common policy in defence of the Amazon rainforest, and took another swipe at France for an offer of $20 million in aid.

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

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said a meeting with regional neighbours except Venezuela to discuss a common policy in defence of the Amazon will be held on September 6 in the Colombian city of Leticia.

Pinera offered his full backing to Bolsonaro, saying the sovereignty of the nations that share the Amazon had to be respected, while Bolsonaro said Brazil's sovereignty had "no price, not even $20 trillion."

That was a reference to an offer of $20 million aid announced by French President Emmanuel Macron at a summit of the G7 wealthy nations in Biarritz over the weekend, which Bolsonaro dismissed as an insulting attempt to "buy" Brazil's sovereignty.

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

"The French government called me a liar. Only after it has recanted what it said about me ... and the Brazilian people, who do not accept this diminution of the Amazon's sovereignty ... if so, then we can talk again," Bolsonaro said.

Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, who shares Bolsonaro's scepticism of environmental concerns and has been at the forefront of the Brazilian government's response to the Amazon crisis, remained in the Armed Forces Hospital in Brasilia on Wednesday.

Salles, 44, was admitted to the hospital's emergency unit on Tuesday after complaining of not feeling well, the hospital said in a statement. Hospital staff opted to carry out "routine examinations," and he is in stable condition, it said.

Story highlights

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said a meeting with regional neighbours except Venezuela to discuss a common policy in defence of the Amazon will be held on September 6 in the Colombian city of Leticia.