Lula calls on France's Macron to attend summit of Amazon countries

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a news conference, in Montevideo, Uruguay, January 25, 2023. REUTERS/Mariana Greif

(Reuters) - Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday urged his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to have France attend the summit of the Amazon countries that he aims to host in coming months.

Lula, who was elected for a third term last October vowing to tackle deforestation in the rainforest, discussed in a phone call with Macron efforts to combat the threat posed by climate change, according to a statement from his office.

He talked about the importance of France attending a summit of the countries of the Amazon forest that Brazil plans to host in the next few month, as it is the only European country to share the biome, through its overseas territory of French Guiana.

Besides Brazil and French Guiana, seven other countries have territory in the world's largest rainforest.

Macron has meanwhile asked Brazil to attend its own "One Forest Summit" that France and Gabon will host in early March, according to the Brazilian statement.

Lula won a narrow election last year promising an overhaul in Brazil's climate policy, after deforestation in the Amazon reached its highest levels in 15 years under then far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who undermined environmental law enforcement and pushed for more mining and farming in the region.

Bolsonaro had a strained relationship with Macron, after the French president denounced in 2019 surging fires in the Amazon. Bolsonaro responded by insulting Macron's wife and accusing him of disrespecting Brazilian sovereignty.

Later on Thursday, Macron said after speaking with Lula that he had reaffirmed his determination to take action "for the climate, biodiversity, our forests and against hunger."

"We will meet these challenges," he said.

(Reporting by Peter Frontini; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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