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Monday, June 11, 2007

Africa pledge is a smokescreen, says Bono

Rueters reports:

HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, June 8 (Reuters) - Rock star Bono denounced world leaders on Friday for producing a "deliberately misleading" pledge to fight AIDS and other killer diseases.

"I am exasperated," Bono told Reuters in a telephone interview at the Baltic resort where leaders from the world's rich nations were rounding off their three-day summit.

"I think it is deliberately the language of obfuscation. It is deliberately misleading," he added.

G8 leaders announced a $60 billion pledge to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis with great fanfare but many activists were disappointed that they failed to set a timetable for the spending plans and that it contained little new money.

"They have taken language hostage. We wanted numbers but this is burobabble," Bono said, criticising the lack of a timeline and the fact that the pledge did not apply specifically to Africa.

"It is not real in any language. We are looking for accountable language and numbers. I might be be a rock star but I can count."

The U2 singer and campaigner, who has been in Heiligendamm holding private meetings with G8 leaders, identified Italy and Canada as the main obstacles to a more ambitious deal.

He also expressed disappointment that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, had not managed to convince her counterparts to make concrete commitments.

"We wanted her to be an honest broker -- she has a history of that -- but she hasn't managed to rein them in."

"I think Merkel showed passion and commitment but she hasn't turned that into real outcomes."

G8 leaders also restated pledges made to double aid spending made two years ago at a summit in Gleneagles in Scotland.

"They say they will keep their pledges on Africa but it is remarkable. In a 25 page document we can't see any evidence of how they are going to get to those. It is a maze."

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