Bill Clinton has signed a foreign aid bill delivering $435m in foreign aid towards cancelling the debts of some of the world's poorest countries.
The bill, long an objective of the Jubilee 2000 campaign of which Bono is a key player, is a major step towards the long-term goal of cancelling $350m in debts of 52 heavily indebted countries. So far about $100bn has been pledged by the international community.
President Clinton said that the bill would be `good for our souls' because by 'lifting the weakest, poorest among us, we lift the rest of us as well.'
He said the bill would free poor nations from crushing financial obligations and let them feed and educate their people better.
'It will be good for our economy because it represents an investment in
future markets; good for our security because in the long run, it is dangerously destabilizing to have half of the world on the cutting edge of technology while the other half struggles on the bare edge of survival; but most of all, it will be good for our souls because global poverty is an affront and confronting the challenge is simply the right thing to do.'
With the U.S. funding, the International Monetary Fund expects to meet its goal of providing 20 of the world's poorest countries with debt relief by Dec. 31, officials said.
President Clinton praised the diverse community of people who were campaigning for debt relieif, from the Pope to agencies like Oxfam and artists like U2's Bono.
'It shows that when we get the pope and the pop stars all singing on the same sheet of music, our voices do carry to the heavens,' Clinton said.
Republican Senator John Kasich, chair of the House Budget Committee and self-confessed Raidohead fan, has met Bono several times to discuss debt relief. He said, 'Just as America must project strength in the world, America must also project compassion.'
For more on the global campaign to cancel the debts of the poorest countries.