The presidents of France and Brazil meet and announce a $1.1 billion investment plan for the Amazon region

SAO PAULO (AP) — The Brazilian and French presidents announced Tuesday a plan to invest 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in the Amazon region, including parts of the rainforest in neighboring French Guiana.

The governments of the two countries said in a joint statement that the funds will be distributed over the next four years to protect the rainforests. This will be a collaboration between Brazilian state-run banks and the French Investment Agency. Brazil and France said private resources would also be welcomed.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are meeting this week to revive the relationship between the two countries after years of friction with former President Jair Bolsonaro, and deepen cooperation to protect rainforests and boost trade.

Macron began his three-day visit to Brazil in the Amazonian city of Belem, where he met his old ally Lula. The French president then took a boat to Compo Island to meet with indigenous leaders.

Both Macron and Lula witnessed the Brazilian Greenpeace protest, holding banners reading “No oil in the Amazon.” The Brazilian government considered allowing oil extraction from an area near the state of Pará, where Belém is located.

Lula said during a speech that Macron's visit is part of a global effort to strengthen the protection of rainforests.

“We want to convince those who have already cleared forests that they need to contribute in an important way to the countries that still have their forests to keep them standing,” Lula said in a speech alongside the French President.

Macron's office said before the trip that a potential European trade deal with the South American bloc Mercosur would not be on the agenda. The French President opposes such an agreement as long as South American producers do not respect the same environmental and health standards as Europeans, after farmers raised their concerns during protests across France and Europe.

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The French President has awarded indigenous leader Rauni Metuktir the prestigious Legion of Honor for his efforts to preserve rainforests.

“I was in Europe and I promised to come here in your forest and be with your people in this desirable forest,” Macron told the indigenous leader, according to French radio RFI. “President Lula and I have a common cause towards one of our friends in this land that belongs to you.”

Lula and Macron will seek to “set a common path” to combat climate change and poverty, while Brazil hosts a G20 summit of leading economies in Rio de Janeiro in November and UN climate talks in Belém, Macron's office said. Next year.

On Wednesday, Macron and Lula will launch a diesel submarine built in Brazil with French technology at the Itaguay shipyard outside Rio de Janeiro. The French President will then head to Sao Paulo to meet with Brazilian investors. The French President is scheduled to travel to Brasilia on Thursday to meet Lula again.

____ Courbet reported from Paris.

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