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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 April 2006, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Bono blasts Berlusconi over image
Bono is at the forefront of a push to eradicate world poverty
Rock star Bono has accused Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of "exploiting" the U2 frontman's image in the run-up to the country's elections.

The Irish singer appears in a brochure listing Mr Berlusconi's government's achievements, just days ahead of the Italian elections.

The brochure sent to Italian homes claims Bono is "grateful" for Italy's actions to help the world's poor.

But in an open letter Bono said he felt a "bit exploited" by the move.

Poor countries

The 161-page brochure was published by Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, which is seeking re-election.

It has been sent to millions of Italian households ahead of the 9-10 April ballot.

Along with photos of Mr Berlusconi addressing crowds and conversing with world leaders, it also features a picture of Bono.

The caption reads: "The Irish star is grateful to the prime minister for the actions promoted by the Italian government towards poor countries".

In the letter, which was translated into Italian and published on the front page of the Corriere della Sera daily on Sunday, Bono said: "Mr Berlusconi, as flattered as I can be of appearing in your brochure, I also feel a bit exploited."

Bono also said he recalled a conversation with Mr Berlusconi during which the prime minister committed himself to implementing a G8 decision to cancel the debt of poor countries.

'Strength of commitment'

He said Italy would have to more than double its aid by 2010 to honour its commitment.

Bono added: "If your commitment is real and your signature is trustworthy, then the world wants to know how Italy intends to reach this target.

"For now you haven't offered any explanation, even though luckily there is still some time."

In a statement the Italian government said: "We will show with the facts the strength of our commitment to the poorest countries."

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