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Brazilian minister says French first lady 'indeed ugly'

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The presidential level spat between Brazil and France is expected to worsen with the Brazilian economy minister's comments on Thursday about the French first lady calling her "indeed ugly".

Brazilian Economy Minister Pablo Guedes' office later clarified his words in a statement.

Defending Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's earlier remarks about French First Lady Brigitte Macron, Puedes told an audience that Bolsonaro is right.

"What I see in the newspapers is that [...] he called Macron's wife ugly," he said, during a speech to the business people in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

"He did say that and it's true -- the woman is indeed ugly."

Laughing along with the audience, he went on to say: ''There's no such thing as an ugly woman, there are only women seen from the wrong angle," adding insult to injury.

The minister's office in the statement said Puedes' intention was to show that ''relevant and urgent issues for the country don't receive the space they deserve in the public debate''. ''There was no intention to express personal offenses,'' the statement read.

Guedes has been promoting an aggressive privatization agenda in Brazil, saying that all state companies are ''dysfunctional'' including the oil giant Petrobras.

In one of his speeches, he said he would ''sell all'' Brazilian state-owned companies if it was up to him.

Bolsonaro and French President Emmanuel Macron have been rubbing each other the wrong way recently, with Macron blasting Bolsonaro over his performance in coping with Amazon fires and Bolsonaro slamming Macron for meddling in the internal affairs of Brazil with a ''colonial mindset''.

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