Rabu, 26 Desember 2007

Merkel may have saved millions of lives: Bob Geldof (AFP)

BERLIN (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have saved millions of lives in Africa during her countrys presidency of the Group of Eight, Irish rock singer and activist Bob Geldof told a newspaper.

"There is not a shadow of a doubt that Germany under the government of Angela Merkel has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even millions," Geldof said in an interview with Germanys Bild daily to appear Thursday.

Geldof was referring to aid pledges made at two meetings in Germany earlier this year, the G8 summit in June and an international donors meeting in September.

The G8 club of industrial powers ended its summit by pledging 60 billion dollars (44.8 billion euros) to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa.

Of that 30 billion dollars had already been pledged by the United States.

In September, Germany hosted a conference of donor countries which pledged 9.7 billion dollars to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria over the next three years.

The figure was just over half the sum the fund hopes to spend combating the diseases from 2008 to 2010.

UNAIDS has said global funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment must quadruple over the next three years to 42.2 billion dollars.

Germany, which held the presidency of the G8 this year, has pledged 600 million euros to the fund over the next three years.

Geldof, who was knighted in Britain for organising the 1985 Live Aid concerts to highlight the plight of African countries, said in the interview that Merkel had raised the "understanding of Africa" among Europes "political class."

Geldof and Bono, another Irish rock singer-turned-activist, were sharply critical of the G8 pledges to Africa after the clubs June summit.

Bono accused the G8 powers of using "bureau-babble" to hide their failed promises to Africa, while Geldof said the meeting was "bollocks."

"Get serious, guys. This wasnt serious, this was a farce, a total farce," Geldof said at the time.

The G8 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

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