Bono, Bill Gates launch $30m anti-poverty campaign in US


US:Musician and anti-poverty campaigner Bono and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have launched a $30 million (€22.5 million) campaign to make global poverty a major issue in next year's United States elections.

The U2 singer has drafted two former Senate majority leaders, Democrat Tom Daschle and Republican Bill Frist, to help restore the US's "fading image" by harnessing the political power of the 2.4 million members of One, Bono's humanitarian group.

At a church on Capitol Hill this week, Mr Frist said candidates from both parties ought to support the campaign to eliminate poverty and fight disease in Africa.

"It is in the strategic and national interest of the United States of America. People do not go to war with people who save their children's lives," he said.

The campaign, called One Vote '08, will ask Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to sign a pledge saying they will offer proposals to fight HIV/Aids and other diseases, improve children's health, increase access to education and clean water, and cut in half the number of people who suffer from hunger.

"Through the extraordinary challenge we now have, it is incumbent upon all of us to recognize that this must be a key part of American foreign policy," said Mr Daschle.

The campaign's budget, most of which has come from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be used largely to mobilise supporters around the US to pressure the presidential campaigns between now and November next year.

The Republican and Democratic national committees have both endorsed the campaign. But although foreign policy issues have dominated the first presidential debates of the primary season, global poverty has received little attention from the candidates until now.