The Brazilian government has said it will reject an offer of aid from G7 countries to help tackle fires in the Amazon rainforest.
French President Emmanuel Macron – who hosted a G7 summit that ended on Monday – said $22m (£18m) would be released.
Brazilian officials gave no reason for turning down the money. But President Jair Bolsonaro has accused France of treating Brazil like a colony.
His defense minister said the fires in the Amazon were not out of control.
Commenting on the G7 offer of aid, Mr. Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, told the Globo news website: “Thanks, but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe.”
“Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world’s heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?” Mr. Lorenzoni added, in a reference to the fire that hit Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in April.
He also said Brazil could teach “any nation” how to protect native forests.
A record number of fires are burning in Brazil, mostly in the Amazon, according to the country’s space research agency, Inpe. President Macron last week described the fires as an “international crisis”.
The $22 million was announced on Monday as the leaders of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – continue to meet in Biarritz, France.
Mr. Macron said the funds would be made available immediately – primarily to pay for more fire-fighting planes – and that France would also “offer concrete support with military in the region”.
But Mr. Bolsonaro – who has been engaged in a public row with Mr. Macron in recent weeks – accused the French leader of launching “unreasonable and gratuitous attacks against the Amazon region”, and “hiding his intentions behind the idea of an ‘alliance’ of G7 countries”.
Despite Mr. Bolsonaro’s comments, his environment minister, Ricardo Salles, initially told reporters that the funding was welcome.
As the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It spans a number of countries, but the majority of it falls within Brazil.
It is known as the “lungs of the world” for its role in absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
The rainforest is also home to about three million species of plants and animals and one million indigenous people.
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By: BBC World News