US ready to fight Amazon fires – but only in cooperation with Brazil

Smoke rises from forest fires in the community of Quitunuquina, near Robore in eastern Bolivia, south of the Amazon basin, on August 28, 2019. Fires have destroyed 1.2 million hectares of forest and grasslands in Bolivia this year, the government said on Wednesday, although environmentalists claim the true figure is much greater. The news comes after leftist President Evo Morales suspended his re-election campaign on Monday to direct the government's response to a growing environmental disaster in the Bolivian portion of the Amazon rainforest, where wildfires have been raging since May. / AFP / AIZAR RALDES

Trump tweeted his ‘full and complete support’ for the Brazilian president on Tuesday, praising him for his ‘very hard’ work on the Amazon crisis.

The US is ready and willing to help Brazil fight forest fires in the Amazon, an aide to President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, but only if it involves working with the Brazilian government.

On Monday, the countries of the G7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — pledged $20 million (18 million euros) to tackle blazes engulfing parts of the world’s largest rainforest that is crucial for maintaining a stable global climate.

“The US stands ready to assist Brazil in efforts to combat fires in the Amazon,” National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis tweeted late on Wednesday.

But the Trump administration prefers a plan that includes discussion with Brazil’s government, he said.

“We didn’t agree to a G7 initiative that failed to include consultations w/ @jairbolsonaro . The most constructive way to assist w/ Brazil’s ongoing efforts is in coordination w/ the Brazilian Gov.”

Bolsonaro has repeatedly clashed with European leaders, especially France’s President Emmanuel Macron, over Brazil’s handling of the Amazon crisis.

Bolsonaro at first rejected the G7’s offer, saying on Tuesday that he would be willing to accept the aid only if Macron withdrew his “insults,” before changing his mind to say Brazil would accept foreign aid on the condition that it controlled the money.

But later on Wednesday, the South American leader fired a fresh salvo, accusing France and Germany of “buying” Brazil’s national sovereignty and throwing into doubt whether his country was still open to accepting the aid funds.

Trump, who met with Bolsonaro at the White House in March, tweeted his “full and complete support” for the Brazilian president on Tuesday and praised him for his “very hard” work on the Amazon crisis.

Macron has accused Bolsonaro of lying to him about his commitments on climate change and vowed to block the EU-Mercosur trade deal involving Brazil that took decades to negotiate.

Although about 60 percent of the Amazon is located in Brazil, the vast forest also spreads over parts of either other countries or territories in South America.

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