Blair faces rain forest protesters in Brazil

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The Independent Online

Demonstrators in Sao Paulo were pulled away from Tony Blair yesterday when they broke through a security cordon to protest against the destruction of Brazilian rain forests.

The protesters, from the environmental pressure group Greenpeace, were within a few feet of Mr Blair when they tried to unfurl a banner calling for an end to British timber imports from the Amazon. The banner said: "Tony Blair – Keep Your Promises", in reference to allegations that the imports are from unregulated sources.

Earlier, Greenpeace handed Mr Blair a letter calling for Britain to import timber from sustainable sources alone.

Security guards pulled the group's protesters away from the Prime Minister as they tried to display the banner.

Mr Blair was visiting Brazil before today's historic trip to Argentina, the first by a serving British Prime Minister, nearly 20 years after Falklands War. He will hold talks with the President of Argentina, Fernando de la Rua, with the aim of increasing trade links between the two countries.

Mr Blair's spokesman said that arguments for trade liberalisation made by nations such as Argentina were a counter-balance to the anti-globalisation movement.

"[Mr Blair] believes the people at the sharp end of the globalisation debate have a more realistic view of the benefits of globalisation than was seen in the caricature of the debate from some of the demonstrators in Genoa," he said.