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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Bono makes a grab for US purse strings
Bono (left) and Paul O'Neill in traditional costumes presented to them by the villagers in northern Ghana,
Odd couple: Bono and Paul O'Neill in Ghanaian dress
Rock star Bono made a grab for America's purse strings as a four-nation aid and debt factfinding tour with US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill reached South Africa.

"He is the man in charge of America's wallet," Bono said of Mr O'Neill.

"And it's true, I want to open that wallet."

The comment came as the dynamic do-good duo arrived in Pretoria for talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki.

"All three of us have a passion for seeing the world's living standard increase quickly for people who have been poor too long," Mr O'Neill said.

In a break from protocol, Bono, lead singer with U2, also met Trevor Manuel, South Africa's finance minister, in a meeting ostensibly called to sign a joint US/South African money laundering agreement.

Bono, who has long fought for the abolition of Third World debt, was welcomed by Mr Manuel as "an old friend".

Cheers to boos

The meetings followed a visit to Ghana, where Mr O'Neill and Bono toured villages, markets and a hospital.

"People should not be expected to live without clean water," Mr O'Neill said after his hospital visit.

"We should do something about it and do something about it now."

Mr O'Neill has been a vocal critic of anti-poverty programmes, saying they have wasted huge amounts of cash by failing to stimulate economic development.

But Bono warned that anger against the US could grow if it failed to act against poverty.

"We are driving down the streets and people are waving, people are jumping up and down, they are glad to see the United States," Bono said.

"If this country doesn't get help, doesn't get the sense of a new beginning... you come back in five years and they'll be throwing rocks at the bus."

The US recently committed to boost aid by $10bn in 2004-06.

See also:

22 May 02 | Africa
14 May 02 | Entertainment
15 Feb 02 | Entertainment
03 Feb 02 | Entertainment
24 Aug 01 | Entertainment
17 Jul 01 | Entertainment
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
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