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Brush off: Brazil leader snubs French minister for haircut

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's decision to get a haircut instead of meeting the French foreign minister this week caused "genuine irritation," a report said Wednesday.

Bolsonaro canceled his meeting with Jean-Yves Le Drian in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia on Monday "because of other matters," presidential spokesman Otavio do Rego Barros told reporters earlier.

At the time of the planned talks, however, Bolsonaro did a Facebook live broadcast as he got a hair cut.

The trim could have serious consequences, the respected Folha de S. Paulo newspaper said Wednesday, citing diplomatic sources.

Le Drian's response to the brush off ranged from "initial frustration to genuine irritation," the Brazilian daily said.

It could even impact the ratification process of the European Union's blockbuster trade deal with the Mercosur group of countries that includes Brazil, the newspaper said.

The French embassy in Brazil declined to comment on the snub.

Barros defended his boss's coiffure and said it was "absolutely not" the reason Bolsonaro canceled the meeting.

"The president starts working at four in the morning, and ends his work day at midnight," Barros said.

"You will admit that it is necessary in some moment between four and midnight for him to find a chance to have his hair cut."

Climate-skeptic Bolsonaro has bristled at European criticism, led by France and Germany, of rampant deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

He has questioned the latest official figures showing deforestation increased by 88 percent in June compared with the same period last year.

During a recent briefing with foreign journalists in Brasilia, Bolsonaro went on the defensive ahead of the planned meeting with Le Drian, to whom he incorrectly referred as "prime minister".

"I will receive the French prime minister to speak about the environment, but he won't be able to take me down, he will understand that the Brazilian government has changed," Bolsonaro said.

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