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Fire consumes the Amazon rainforest in Altamira, Brazil, on Aug. 27, 2019. The rain forest is often referred to as the 'lungs of the world' for its ability to absorb a significant portion of the Earth’s climate-warming carbon dioxide.Leo Correa/The Associated Press

Brazil says it is open to receiving foreign aid to help fight the Amazon wildfires after initially rejecting international assistance, but it is not clear if that means it will accept the $15-million and water bombers Canada has offered.

A spokesperson for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday the country would only be willing to accept the aid if it could control how it will be spent. Brazil’s openness to help comes after Mr. Bolsonaro rejected a US$20-million aid package from Group of Seven countries to help combat fires ravaging the Amazon rain forest, saying it was colonialist and an attack on the country’s sovereignty.

“The Brazilian government, through its president, is open to receiving financial support from organizations and countries. This money, when it enters the country, will have the total governance of the Brazilian people,” Brazilian presidential spokesman Rego Barros told reporters on Tuesday.

Mr. Barros’ comments came after governors of states in the Brazilian Amazon told Mr. Bolsonaro they needed the money to fight the wildfires in the world’s largest tropical rain forest. A diplomatic source told Reuters the Brazilian government had also accepted £10-million from Britain to fight the fires.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office said Brazil and other South American countries had not accepted Canada’s pledge of $15-million and water bombers yet, as they were still evaluating their needs. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the pledge at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, on Monday. The Canadian offer comes in addition to the G7 commitment.

Mr. Bolsonaro initially rejected the G7 offer amid a public spat with French President Emmanuel Macron, who hosted the G7 summit. The leaders have been engaged in a war of words since Mr. Bolsonaro mocked the looks of Mr. Macron’s wife on Sunday; the French President bit back, accusing Mr. Bolsonaro of lying about his climate-change policy. Mr. Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that he would only consider accepting the G7 offer if Mr. Macron withdrew “insults” made against him, before his spokesperson later said the country would be open to receiving aid.

A day after the G7 announcement, Ottawa still could not say if or how much Canada contributed to the G7 aid package. Ms. Freeland’s office said that while it was trying to get more details about Canada’s contribution, the federal government is engaging in its own aid talks with Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay, which are all affected by the fires.

“Minister Freeland has had calls with both her Brazilian and Bolivian counterparts in recent days. Countries are currently assessing their needs and Canada stands ready to help,” Adam Austen, a spokesman for Ms. Freeland, said in a statement.

Ms. Freeland spoke with her Brazilian counterpart on Sunday and the Bolivian Foreign Minister Monday. Canadian officials have also reached out to Peru and Paraguay.

Speaking to reporters in Biarritz Monday, Mr. Trudeau said Canada has dealt with its own extreme wildfires in recent years and is prepared to assist other countries dealing with similar events.

“We will be there to support our friends in South America as we fight a blaze that has impacts not just on their region but on our entire planet," Mr. Trudeau said.

Asked about the Brazilian President’s decision to reject international aid offers, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Tuesday that countries must work together to fight climate change and protect the Amazon. She said Canada is currently helping Argentina track how air pollution disperses, as it copes with smoke from the Amazon fires.

“The Amazon is hugely important when it comes to the environment we all enjoy and the impacts on the Amazon of deforestation, of these forest fires just accelerates climate change. So we’re going to be looking for partnerships and we’ll continue to look at every way we can move forward because we’re all in this together," Ms. McKenna told reporters in Toronto.

Global outrage has been intensifying as the Amazon burns. The rain forest is often referred to as the “lungs of the world" for its ability to absorb a significant portion of the Earth’s climate-warming carbon dioxide.

In a statement Tuesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh urged Mr. Trudeau to halt all trade negotiations with Mr. Bolsonaro’s government in an effort to pressure Brazil to accept international help to fight the fires.

“This is another disturbing example of Justin Trudeau saying and tweeting pretty things in public, when behind closed doors he’s doing business with the person responsible for the deforestation and devastation of the lungs of the planet," Mr. Singh said.

With files from Reuters

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