Brazil says successfully controlling Amazon fires

WASHINGTON (AP) – Brazil’s foreign minister said his country is successfully extinguishing the fires in the Amazon region that have generated international concern after discussing the situation with United States (US) President Donald Trump on Friday at the White House.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said earlier in the day that his son and Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo were heading to Washington to discuss possible US aid in fighting the fires. The far-right president said he asked Trump for help and the US President had said that “he couldn’t make a decision without hearing from Brazil.”

Araujo told reporters after meeting with Trump that the fires “are not an excuse to promote ideas of international management of the Amazon,” though he said the South American country is open to cooperation with other countries.

“The fires that exist today are already being fought and we are being successful in extinguishing most of the fires,” he said, adding that the meeting with Trump did not bring up specific US aid.

Bolsonaro is considering appointing his son, congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, to be ambassador to the US, though the posting would need to be approved by the upper house of the Brazilian congress.

Araujo said the Trump administration had already expressed its approval to a possible ambassadorship of congressman Bolsonaro. “Now we have to wait for the Senate to approve hopefully the invitation,” he said.

Araujo said the fact that Trump hosted both him and the congressman at the White House even though they are not heads of state “shows how far we are in building a very special relationship with the United States.”

The compliments about the relationship with the Trump administration contrast with criticism of Brazil’s government from French President Emmanuel Macron and some other European leaders.

A USD20 million offer of aid from the Group of Seven nations to help fight fires and protect rainforest stalled after Bolsonaro said Macron would have to apologise for remarks he had made.