Brazilian VP backs Bolsonaro's son as US ambassador

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's vice president said Monday he didn't see "any problems" with President Jair Bolsonaro's possible nomination of his son as ambassador to the United States, rebutting accusations that nepotism had tainted the appointment process for a coveted diplomatic posting.

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President Jair Bolsonaro has said he is considering nominating his son to be U.S. ambassador, but has not formally proposed him for the position. Eduardo Bolsonaro currently serves as a congressman and heads the foreign relations commission in the lower house.

In response to criticism, Vice President Hamilton Mourao expressed support for the idea and said he believed Eduardo Bolsonaro met the country's legal requirements for the job.

"It is a decision of the president," Mourao said. "We don't discuss decisions. We comply with them."

Mourao also stressed at a rare meeting with foreign correspondents that the country would preserve its biodiversity and remain part of the Paris agreement, weeks after the government threatened to leave the accord.

"I think we need to appease the rest of the world, we will protect the biomass that we have in Brazil," Mourao said. "This environmental agenda is global. No one can escape it and Brazil is aware of its responsibilities."

But Mourao, seen by many investors as a reassuring, stable figure, hasn't always taken a measured tone.

The vice president was formerly a member of the conservative Brazilian Labor Renewal Party and made headlines during the presidential campaign by appearing to be supportive of a military intervention in politics to curb widespread corruption.

Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of international relations at Getulio Vargas Foundation, noted that his approach has changed since elections.

"There is now a lot of pressure for him to tone down his criticism," he said. "Mourao has now chosen to keep a low-profile. But everybody knows he's ready to step in."

While in office, the vice president has gained some allies by mending ties with China, a key trading partner who Bolsonaro chided during the campaign.

On Monday, Mourao said Brazil could be particularly helpful in providing food to the Chinese population.

"No one today can do without dealing with China," he said.

Bolsonaro is due to visit China on an October trip that will also take him to Japan.

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