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Bolsonaro tries to ease worries about Amazon fires

Sunday - August 25, 2019 10:20 am , Category : WORLD
Brasilia, Aug 25 (IANS) Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said that the Amazon rainforest now "is not burning as people say", in a bid to ease global concerns over the massive wildfires that were devastating the world's largest tropical rainforest..
"Our units have started working in the region. Now, the forest is not burning as people say. The fire occurs (in the area) where people deforest," the President told reporters here on Saturday.
The average number of fires recorded this year in Brazil, Bolsonaro said, was lower than those in the past few years, and the situation, which has caused international attention, "is moving towards normality", reports Xinhua news agency.
Data from the Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), however, showed that the number of forest fires in Brazil soared by 82 per cent from January to August this year from a year ago, and over half of those fires occurred in the Amazon rainforest.
Brazil owns about 60 per cent of the Amazon rainforest, which covers an area of some 5,500,000 square km in South America.
Scientists and environmental groups are worried that the fires will aggravate climate change crisis and threaten biodiversity.
Bolsonaro on Friday mobilized the military and 40 million reals ($9 million) to battle the fires, saying that the amount was small, and some of the fires "seemed to be arsons".
Bolsonaro said that he was considering calling the Brazilian Ambassador to France to express his disagreement over French President Emmanuel Macron's criticism of his government's actions in fighting the fires.
He meanwhile left open the possibility of a dialogue with Macron as long as the latter approaches him first.
Leaders from other countries have offered Brazil their support to battle the fires, Bolsonaro added.
Macron previously called the Amazon fires an international crisis and the G7 leaders should hold urgent discussions about them at their ongoing summit in France.

--IANS ksk