QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa will keep promoting his initiative to protect the country's Amazon region by refraining from drilling for oil, but warned on Thursday that his government will negotiate the deal hard.
Under the Yasuni initiative, OPEC-member Ecuador would leave 850 million barrels of oil, worth $6 billion, underground in the Amazon as a contribution to countering climate change.
In return for not extracting the oil, Ecuador is looking to donor countries to pay it $350 million a year. Negotiations with potential donors -- such as Germany, Belgium and Spain -- have been difficult.
"We will keep pushing for the success of the Yasuni initiative, which was drawn up by my office, but without threatening the dignity and sovereignty of the country," Correa said during a public address.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Fander Falconi, who had been in charge of the negotiations, quit on Tuesday after Correa accused him of mishandling the administration of the project and allowing donor countries to impose conditions.
Ecuador says not touching the oil would avoid creating 410 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.