Bono Urges Bush to Keep His Promises to Fight AIDS in Africa

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9.17.03 - AFP

U2 rocker and activist Bono told President George W. Bush of his fears of seeing the United States fall down on its promise to finance the battle against AIDS.

"I can get very angry," Bono told reporters.

The lead singer of U2 lent Bush his support after the president's January promise of 15 billion dollars to fight AIDS over the coming five years, mostly in Africa.

Bono said he met with Bush early Tuesday at the White House to ask him to pressure Congress for the promised funds.

"He is very passionate about this problem, and I believe him when I say he is committed, ... but we cannot agree on the numbers," said Bono, flanked by bishops in the Methodist church Bush attends regularly.

Several US churches launched a campaign Tuesday to make good on the US promise to Africa by asking voters to call their representatives in Congress so they will provide the funds Bush promised.

Bush included a total of three billion dollars in his 2004 budget bill to battle AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The funds would be separate from UN funds for the same purpose.

Another Bush initiative, the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), is a 1.3-billion-dollar project aimed at persuading poor countries to adopt good economic and social management.

However, the Senate and the House of Representatives, both of which are controlled by Bush's Republican Party, cut the AIDS funding to two billion dollars and the MCA to less than one billion.

The two houses of Congress must reconcile the final figures. The US churches, as well as DATA (Debt, Trade, AIDS, Africa), which Bono created, have launched their campaign to push those figures back up between now and the budget vote.

"We want the money now; we need the money now," said Bono, born Paul David Hewson.

Bono said that he had met with several lawmakers as well as candidates for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination during his stay in Washington.

Copyright © 2003 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 17, 2003 3:12 AM.

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