Brazil defense minister sees no need for U.S. military base

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Brazil's President Bolsonaro attends ceremony at Planalto Palace in Brasilia

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's defense minister sees no reason to allow the United States to set up a military base in the country, an idea that President Jair Bolsonaro has said he is open to.

General Fernando Azevedo told the Tuesday edition of Valor Economico the matter "is complex" and he had not yet discussed it with Bolsonaro.

"This needs to be carefully evaluated. I don't see what the reason is for such a base," Silva was quoted as saying. Azevedo's press representatives were not immediately available to confirm the accuracy of his remarks.

Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1, said in a television interview two days later he might be willing to allow a U.S. base in Brazil as a way to counter Russian influence in Venezuela, a move that would mark a sharp shift in direction for Brazilian foreign policy.

A senior army officer told Reuters the military was against the idea.

Azevedo said in the interview, conducted on Friday, that Bolsonaro had yet to set out his plans with the Defense Ministry, the part of the government that he said would oversee any such move.

The Folha de S.Paulo newspaper on Tuesday reported that Bolsonaro had backtracked on the idea, citing anonymous sources.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)