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Treasury Secretary O'Neill Lauds Bono

At the closing news conference of a meeting of G-7 finance ministers, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill mentioned he met Bono last year at the singer’s request, adding he initially feared it would be “just another rock star who wants to use me for something.”

Instead, the scheduled half-hour session lasted more than 90 minutes as the two discussed issues such as development aid for Africa.

“He’s a serious person,” O’Neill said Saturday of Bono. “He cares deeply about these issues and you know what? He knows a lot about them.”

O’Neill noted Bono has traveled to Africa and other places to learn firsthand the situation on the ground.

He said a plan for the two to make an African trip together last year got sidelined by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but it could still happen, with television cameras along to document what life is like there.

Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin, sitting next to O’Neill, joked that talking with a rock star such as Bono bolsters “the sense of respect your children have for you.”

Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, recently addressed the World Economic Forum in New York and has become the main spokesman for Drop the Debt, which campaigns for the canceling of developing world debt. He has also joined anti-AIDS efforts and lobbies to lower trade barriers.

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