2.26.00 - Reuters
ROME (Reuters) - Irish pop singer Bono Saturday used the stage of Italy's glitzy San Remo music festival to thank the Pope and Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema for supporting the campaign for Third World debt forgiveness.
Bono, sporting tinted, glittery sunglasses, spoke in competent Italian as his fellow U2 band member The Edge strummed the guitar softly at the start of the grand finale of the week-long extravaganza in the Italian Riviera resort of San Remo.
"To the Pope -- thank you; to Mr D'Alema -- thank you for your promise," Bono said as the chic audience applauded at Italy's national version of the Eurovision Song Contest, which has millions of viewers glued to their television sets.
Bono, along with Italian rap star Lorenzo Jovanotti, on Wednesday visited D'Alema in Rome and helped persuade the premier to write off more Third World debt.
The message has also been broadcast at San Remo this week by opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti, a co-host of the festival, and by Jovanotti, who performed a rap urging D'Alema to ``drop the debt.''
Jovanotti's performance sparked parliamentary controversy as conservative opposition figures accused him of using the stage to make political capital.
Bono alluded to that row Saturday when he appealed to opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi not to let politics stand in the way of helping needy human beings in 2000.
The Pope has declared this year a Jubilee or Holy Year and urged rich countries to seize the opportunity to cancel Third World debt.
"Mr Berlusconi, please help Mr D'Alema to help the Jubilee," Bono said before singing two songs. "This is not politics but people's lives."
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