The United States and Brazil, the two major critics of the Paris climate accord, said Friday they would promote private-sector development in the Amazon, where fires have alarmed environmentalists.

Meeting in Washington, the top diplomats of the Western Hemisphere's two most populous countries vowed to build on cooperation between their right-wing presidents, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo again hit back at European-led criticism over the handling of major fires in the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest which plays a crucial role in soaking up carbon emissions behind climate change.

"We want to be together in the effort to create development for the Amazon region, which we are convinced is the only way to really protect the forest," Araujo said as he met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"We need productive initiatives that create jobs, that create revenue for the people in the Amazon, and that's where our partnership with the United States will be very important to us," he said.

Pompeo pointed to a US-Brazilian effort announced in March in which the private sector will aim to create economic opportunities for Amazon communities, with a goal of raising $100 million.

US officials said that the fund will aim to protect biodiversity by supporting businesses in hard-to-reach areas of the forest.

Bolsonaro and Trump have both attacked international efforts to fight climate change, saying that they ignore the interests of business.

French President Emmanuel Macron angered Bolsonaro by raising the idea of giving an international status to the Amazon.