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U2’s Bono to urge US politicians not to cut aid programmes

Irish rocker and anti-poverty campaigner Bono. — Reuters picIrish rocker and anti-poverty campaigner Bono. — Reuters picWASHINGTON, Nov 12 — Irish rocker and anti-poverty campaigner Bono will appeal to Democrats and Republicans during a visit to Washington this week to spare US development assistance programmes from cuts as Congress tries to avert the looming “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending reductions early next year.

The U2 lead singer’s visit comes as the Obama administration and congressional leaders try to forge a deal in coming weeks to avoid the economy hitting the “fiscal cliff” — tax increases and spending cuts worth US$600 billion (RM1.8 trillion) starting in January if Congress does not act.

Analysts say the absence of a deal could shock the United States, the world’s biggest economy, back into recession.

Kathy McKiernan, spokeswoman for the ONE Campaign, said Bono will hold talks with congressional lawmakers and senior Obama administration officials during the November 12-14 visit.

During meetings he will stress the effectiveness of US foreign assistance programs and the need to preserve them to avoid putting at risk progress made in fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, she said.

Bono, a long-time advocate for the poor, will argue that US government-funded schemes that support life-saving treatments for HIV/AIDS sufferers, nutrition programs for malnourished children, and emergency food aid make up just 1 per cent of the US government budget but are helping to save tens of millions of lives in impoverished nations.

The One Campaign would not elaborate which lawmakers and senior Obama administration officials Bono will meet.

Today, Bono will discuss the power of social movements with students at Georgetown University. He will also meet new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim for a web cast discussion on Wednesday on the challenges of eradicating poverty. — Reuters

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