CNN Access: Bono backs 'effective aid' for Africa
Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on CNN.com providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.
(CNN) -- Bono, the lead singer for the rock group U2, is visiting Africa with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in an effort to boost badly needed aid for the continent. He spoke Thursday night from Pretoria, South Africa, with CNN's Aaron Brown.
BROWN: Do you think it's possible, given the kind of attention all the camera crews, the press that's along, for [O'Neill] to really get a sense of the dimensions of the problems in Africa?
BONO, SINGER, U2: Yes. I mean that's it. But I'll tell you what. It's amazing thing though, just being here, what it means, to people. I mean, we're riding around in Ghana, in Accra. And people are coming out on the streets. And they're waving at this motorcade going by. And I can tell you, they're not -- our records aren't played on the radio over here. They're waving at the United States and the U.S. Treasury. When we go north into Muslim territory, I'm seeing people coming out of their houses and waving. And why is that? I'll tell you why. Because we're there. And because these people don't feel abandoned. And they feel there's chance for new relationship with America, and with Europe and with sub Saharan Africa. Now I tell you what. If we come back in five years and we've let these people down, and we've ignored the AIDS emergency, they'd be throwing rocks at us. And who could blame them?
BROWN: Did you talk about AIDS today with the government of South Africa, because as you know, the government of South Africa seems to have some difficulty grasping this issue.
BONO: They're turning the corner on AIDS. Yes, we spoke with the government today. I spoke with President Mbeki and with his finance minister. And Mbeki has a great idea, though. Outside of criticisms for his lack of leadership on AIDS, he has shown great leadership on how to deal with the African problem and the crisis on that continent. And he has this thing called NEPAD, which is a New Partnership with America and Europe. And we're really hoping that in the next year, there can be a real historic initiative, a whole new way of looking at this problem. And by that, I mean, with good governments and anti-corruption laws, we treat them. We listen to them. We treat them fairly and equally. And that includes trade, because they have not had free trade a lot of the time. They've had very unfair trade. And also on the debt burden, you know, if they show promise, and they show that we can deal with them, they'll -- then we drop their debts. This is the sort of things we're talking about.
BROWN: These sorts of trips create certain expectations. Best case, what would you like from the U.S. government resulting from this trip?
BONO: Well, look, I believe the American people are generous people. They don't like to hear and to discover that on the list of the 22 wealthiest countries in the world, they are giving the least to the poorest country in the world. They don't want that. But I have to say there's a reason. Some people call it a reason, some people call it an excuse. But the reasons offered is that aid in the past has been not as effective as it should be. That's what the -- Paul O'Neill is saying. I'm showing him effective aid. I believe if we show Americans that for very little money, they can transform the lives. Indeed, save the lives of hundreds and thousands of people, millions of people. And you know, this is partly what's going on in Washington this week. There's a bill Senator Helms has put forward. $500 million. There's another one Senator Durbin put forward for $700 million to deal with this emergency in the emergency supplemental. If we are to lose that kind of money, it's more than a scandal. It's destruction of lives. And I'm confident that people like Senator Frist and others that are really leading the way on the AIDS emergency will prevail. And I know that the White House is listening here. And I know that.
BROWN: Bono, we wish you nothing -- we wish you nothing but great success. Thanks for your time today. Travel safely.
BONO: I'm sorry for ranting, but if you were here, you'd be ranting too, Aaron. Thanks for your coverage. Bye.
BROWN: Bye, thank you.
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