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Brazil's Bolsonaro fuels spat with Macron over Amazon fires


AFP Brasilia
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday repeated a demand for French leader Emmanuel Macron to withdraw recent remarks, as he accused France and Germany of "buying" the Latin American country's sovereignty with Amazon fire aid.
Bolsonaro's comments come a day after he said he was open to discussing the G7's offer of $20 million to help combat fires raging in the world's largest rainforest, but only if the French leader retracted his "insults" against him.
Hours later Bolsonaro appeared to have walked back on that demand when his spokesman told reporters that Brazil would accept foreign aid on the condition that it controlled the money.
"Only after he withdraws what he said... we can talk again," Bolsonaro told reporters Wednesday after holding talks with Chile's President Sebastian Pinera.
"Germany and in particular France are buying our sovereignty," Bolsonaro said.
"It seems that $20 million is our price. Brazil doesn't have a price of 20 million or 20 trillion -- it's the same thing for us." Bolsonaro said Brazil would accept bilateral aid to fight the fires, raising doubts over whether the country would take up the G7's offer.
Macron and Bolsonaro have repeatedly locked horns in the past week, with the French leader accusing Bolsonaro of lying to him about his commitments on climate change and vowing to block the EU-Mercosur trade deal involving Brazil that took decades to negotiate.
On Monday, Macron rebuked the "extraordinarily rude" Bolsonaro after the Brazilian leader personally expressed approval 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." Bolsonaro's remarks come as official figures show 1,044 new fires were started between Monday and Tuesday, taking the total this year to 83,329 -- the highest since at least 2013 -- even as military aircraft and troops help battle the blazes.
More than half of the fires are in the massive Amazon basin.
Brazil's Vice President Hamilton Mourao also weighed in publicly for the first time on the growing diplomatic row over the fires.
In an opinion piece published in the conservative Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, Mourao slammed an "international campaign" against Brazil and declared the forest belongs to Brazil.

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First Published: Aug 28 2019 | 8:40 PM IST

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