Bono took part in a debate on foreign aid at New York's World Economic Forum this weekend.
Advocating the importance of debt relief to fight Aids and poverty in
developing countries, Bono's audience was business leaders and politicians,
and he shared centre stage with Microsoft founder Bill Gates - 'the Pope of
According to the Associated Press reporter, Bono turned out to be the
'Every year at the World Economic Forum there's a leader or two who stands
out, courted by the rich and famous - and the media. In years past, Madeline
Albright, Yasser Arafat Bill Clinton and George Soros have been the stars.
This year it's Bono, the lead singer of U2, who has made a cause out of
Third World debt forgiveness.
The rocker seems to be everywhere at the forum, which has otherwise brought
a decidedly straight-laced crowd of business leaders and politicians to New
`He's a good friend of mine,'' said U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont,
lounging on a couch at the Inter-Continental Hotel where forum participants
hold press conferences. ``He can meet with the pope one day and with Jesse
Helms on another.''
Wearing blue wraparound sunglasses Thursday inside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
where the participants hold their sessions, he traded opinions with three
Nobel Peace Prize winners: Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and Kofi Annan (news -
web sites). Then Bono played a private concert for conference-goers.
On Saturday, he faced off with Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on the
forum's main stage in a debate on foreign aid, then joined Microsoft
chairman Bill Gates for a news conference on AIDS prevention in Africa.
`The great thing about hanging out with Republicans, it is very, very, very
unhip for both of us. There's kind of a parity of pain there,' Bono joked.
It's strange company for a singer who once railed against American
imperialism in `Bullet the Blue Sky' and whose albums regularly lambaste
Western consumerism and big business.
The 41-year-old Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, has become the main
spokesman for Drop the Debt, which campaigns for the canceling of Third
World debt. He has also joined anti-AIDS efforts and lobbying to lower trade
barriers that have frustrated poor countries.
He said he began meeting publicly with world leaders and attending
conferences of policy-makers after discovering the mass media didn't want to
hear him talk about those subjects.
`I went to politicians because I couldn't get on TV,' Bono said.
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