Bono urges Sarkozy to keep aid pledges

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Rock star Bono pressed French leader Nicolas Sarkozy to live up to pledges to increase development aid during a "feisty" meeting at the Elysee presidential palace, the aid advocacy group DATA said.

The organisation, co-founded by Bono, front man of the U2 rock group, has chastised France for lagging in fulfilling in a promise to raise development assistance to 0.7 per cent of gross national income by 2012. In 2006, French aid stood at 0.31 percent of gross national income, DATA said.

"The president admitted it would be very, very hard, but France would keep her word," the statement quoted Bono as saying following the meeting, which he described as "feisty" and "factual."

"The president knows the details and moves fast," Bono said, adding Sarkozy pledged to restore 20 million euros ($A33.58 million) to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The French leader also "said he would send through a plan to restore promised French aid trajectories in the next few weeks," Bono was quoted as saying.

DATA's statement cites an October parliamentary report showing France's estimated overseas development assistance would be 0.35 per cent of gross national income in 2007 and would remain at 0.35 per cent in 2008.

Bono and Sarkozy met last year at a G-8 summit in Germany. There, the French leader reiterated his commitment to increasing development aid, particularly to Africa.

However, DATA has repeatedly blasted France for "making little real effort" to meet its medium-term aid goals.

Oliver Buston, the organisation's European director, said in a statement that "France is not on track for respecting its promises on aid to development in Africa."

"We hope that under President Sarkozy's energetic leadership, things will get better and not worse," the statement said.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on January 9, 2008 5:08 AM.

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