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U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2017
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Chairman Ed Royce Meets With U2's Bono

Posted on Thursday, March 14 @ 13:57:20 UTC by Macphisto

(AllAfrica.com) -- House Africa Subcommittee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) today met with Bono, a passionate champion of Africa and lead singer of the internationally acclaimed band U2.

Topping the discussion was debt relief to Africa and other Third World nations. In his conversation with Bono, Royce stressed the importance of making sure that debt relief is tied to conditions, including government accountability and environmental protection. Royce endorsed so-called "debt for nature" swaps, in which debt is taken off an impoverished country's books in exchange for a commitment to set aside forest and other non-exploited areas.

Bono agreed with Royce that it is critical governments receiving debt relief be held accountable for how the money is used. Royce stated that the debt relief should be used for health services, not military expenditures as has happened in the past. He noted how African leaders receiving debt relief in the past have used the freed-up government revenues to buy arms and luxury planes.

"There is little of this debt relief money that will be 'paid back'," Royce said. "We should leverage something for it, like conserving environmentally-sensitive land that supports threatened species, like the Black Rhino and African Elephant. Large parts of Africa will be an environmental wasteland in a few decades if action is not taken. We should trade nature reserves for debt relief, and I told Bono I will continue working on this idea."

Bono also agreed with Royce that greater trade is key to African development. Royce was the lead sponsor of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, signed into law in 2000. This legislation has already led to the creation of thousands of desperately needed jobs in Africa.

HIV-AIDS was also discussed. Africa has the majority of AIDS cases worldwide, resulting in the highest incidences of orphaned children.

"Bono has been described as 'Africa's biggest advocate'. He is very passionate about helping the continent, and makes a strong case in favor of debt relief and trade. He is using his popularity not only to raise awareness, but to educate," Royce said.

Joining Royce were U.S. Reps. Spencer Baucus (R-AL), Jim Leach (R-IA), Sonny Callahan (R-AL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Zack Wamp (R-TN), Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), Dave Camp (R-MI), John Sweeney (R-NY), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Green (R-WI).

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