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Trump did not agree to G7 aid package for Amazon fires

Posted at 5:11 AM, Aug 29, 2019

President Donald Trump did not commit to a $20 million package proposed at the G7 to help Brazil fight fires in the Amazon, a Trump administration spokesman said Wednesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday that G7 nations had agreed to fund a $20 million package to help combat raging forest fires in the Amazon and said the US was on board with the proposal despite Trump's absence at a leaders meeting on the environment.

But National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said Wednesday that the US had not committed to the aid package, citing a lack of coordination with the Brazilian government.

"The United States stands ready to assist Brazil in its efforts to combat these fires, and did not agree to a joint G7 initiative that failed to include consultations with President (Jair) Bolsanaro," Marquis said in a statement. "The most constructive way to assist is in coordination with the government of Brazil."

Marquis also noted that the US has "a strong history" of engaging in conservation efforts in the region, including through the $80 million Partnership for Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity.

The statement echoed concerns expressed by the government of the far-right Brazilian president, which rejected Macron's offer of assistance from G7 countries amid an ongoing feud between Bolsonaro and Macron.

Bolsonaro has since softened his stance on the financial aid, suggesting he would consider the aid offer if Macron withdrew his criticism of the Brazilian leader. And Brazil has since accepted $12 million in aid from the British government, which is a member of the G7.

Macron insisted that the US was on board with "the Amazon initiative" during a news conference on Monday, even though Trump did not attend the leaders' session on climate where the aid package was agreed to. A National Security Council official attended the session on the US' behalf instead.

"You shouldn't read anything into the American President's absence," Macron said on Monday. "The United States is with us on biodiversity and on the Amazon initiative."