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Bono, keynote speaker for the 54th National Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton Washington Hotel on February 2, urged American leaders to follow through with promises to aid the world's sick and impoverished. He lauded the audience of national and foreign government, military, and religious leaders for their efforts to fight AIDS and grant debt relief for Africa. But Bono also prodded them make harder sacrifices.

"After 9/11, we were told America would have no time for the world's poor. We were told that America would be taken up with its own problems of safety. … But America has not drawn the blinds and double-locked the doors." Bono said. "You have doubled aid to Africa. You have tripled funding for global health. And Mr. President, your emergency plan for AIDS relief and support of the Global Fund, has put 700,000 people onto life-saving antiretroviral drugs and provided 8 million bed nets to protect children from malaria. … But here's the bad news. There is so much more to do. There is a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response."

Event planners had tried to keep the U2 frontman's appearance a carefully guarded secret. He co-founded the Washington-based humanitarian organization, DATA (Debt. AIDS. Trade. Africa.). He has been recruiting churches and American politicians in the battle against the AIDS pandemic. He said treatable diseases cost Africa 150,000 lives every month—a "completely avoidable catastrophe." He also chastised those who champion free markets while preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products.

"While the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject," Bono said. "There are the laws of the land, and then there is a higher standard. ...

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February 2006

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