Trump-appointed U.S. ambassador to Brazil retires

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador, Todd Chapman arrives for a ceremony where the companies selected to operate the Alcantara space launch site in Maranhao state were announced, at the Air Base in Brasilia, Brazil, April 28, 2021. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

BRASILIA (Reuters) -The United States ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, said on Thursday that he is retiring for personal reasons after just 14 months in Brasilia, ending a State Department career spanning three decades.

Chapman was appointed by former President Donald Trump and established close ties with Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, an admirer of Trump who echoed his allegations of U.S. election fraud.

As ambassador, Chapman quickly established relations with Bolsonaro after arriving in Brasilia last year, inviting the president and his closest aides to a July 4 barbecue.

The ambassador wore a cowboy hat and posed for photos at the event alongside Bolsonaro, with neither wearing masks despite the raging pandemic, just three days before Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus.

Chapman's departure is expected to open the way for President Joe Biden to send an envoy in tune with growing pressure on the Bolsonaro government to beat back a rise in deforestation of the Amazon jungle.

In a statement in Portuguese posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Brazil, Chapman said he has informed Biden of his decision, and will spend the next 30 days continuing to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Chapman said he will move to Denver, Colorado, to be closer to family.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever and Anthony BoadleEditing by Alistair Bell)

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