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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Bono makes noise in Prague
Bono, James Wolfensohn, Czech President's wife Dagmar Havlova
Bono is embraced by World Bank chief, James Wolfensohn
Rock star Bono has met the head of the World Bank in Prague as he continues to lobby financial institutions and governments to cancel debt owed by poor countries.

The U2 frontman, who is in the Czech capital in support of the pressure group Jubilee 2000, jokingly dubbed James Wolfensohn the Elvis of economics for his debt relief initiatives, but said he didn't go far enough.

Speaking at a panel discussion on globalisation, Bono voiced his support for anti-debt protestors, who plan to disrupt Tuesday's joint annual meeting of the World Bank and its sister lending agency, the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mr Wolfensohn said he greatly admired the singer but could not go "100% up the mountain with him" and support debt cancellation.

'State of emergency'

The Jubilee 2000 campaign argues many poor countries will be no better off after debt relief than they were before, and will still have to repay more money to rich countries than they can spend on health or education.

"I think 19,000 children dying every day is what you might call a crisis. The continent of Africa is in crisis, and we must come to their side," Bono told the BBC's Mike Donkin.

Bono at Capitol Hill
Bono signs autographs on Capitol Hill during his recent visit to Washington
"If the debt situation was happening in London or Prague, we would call it a holocaust," he said.

The singer condemned any violence but, urging government ministers to treat the issue as a "state of emergency", said that people's concerns needed to be heard and addressed.

"People feel resentful if they don't feel listened to. That leads to frustration and anger and that could cause riots. The scenes you've seen in Seattle and the like.

"Violence is always dumb, but noise isn't. I know a little bit about that," he said.

'Stupid people'

Admitting that some of the violent protestors were "stupid people", he insisted most campaigners were intelligent people unhappy with unaccountable institutions.

"As a musician it's a lot more glamorous to be on the barricades with a hankie for the CS gas, than it is for me to turn up with a briefcase and a bowler hat.

"Well I'm here with a briefcase and a bowler hat."

"If globalisation means a better life for more people, we're all in favour of it. If it means a better life for less people, we're all against it," he added.

On Friday, the singer was in Washington to urge the US government to increase the amount of debt relief it gives to poor countries.

Earlier this month Bono delivered a petition to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with more than 21 million signatures asking for the cancellation of Third World debt.

Bono flew to Prague after attending Paula Yates's funeral on Saturday, where he sang a song remembering the late TV presenter.

Bono speaking to the BBC's Mike Donkin
"The continent of Africa is in crisis"
Bono of U2
"I'm here with a briefcase and a bowler hat"
See also:

26 Sep 00 | Business
Violence flares in Prague
25 Sep 00 | Business
Protesters target Prague talks
22 Sep 00 | Entertainment
U2's Bono appeals to US
08 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Bono petitions leaders over debt
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