Irish rock star Bono says Canadian Prime Minister mystifies him

Irish rock star Bono says Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's inability to further increase foreign aid mystifies him, especially facing an election in a country that clearly favors more foreign aid.

"I'm mystified, actually, by the man," the U2 leader singer told a news conference Friday. "I like him very much, personally.

"I just think that it's a huge opportunity that he's missing out on. This is important to the Canadian people. I think the prime minister will find out if he walks away from the opportunity to (boost foreign aid) he will hear about it in the election. I am absolutely sure of that."

Bono said he was heartened by polls suggesting most Canadians support a boost to foreign aid. He wants Canada to increase foreign contributions to 0.7 percent of its gross domestic product.

That would more than triple the US$2.5 billion Canada currently spends on foreign aid each year.

Speaking in support of the Make Poverty History project, Bono said Canada could easily increase Third World aid because it's the only major industrialized country in a surplus position.

Martin said he spoke with Bono on the phone for about 15 minutes on Friday morning.

"His role is to push me forward," Martin said before reiterating his oft-stated belief that Canada can't commit to the 0.7 percent target without a firm plan for reaching that goal.

Bono is in Ottawa for a U2 concert but spent the day meeting with politicians.

Bono said Canada's humanitarian tradition and moral convictions are the reasons he's a "fan" of Canada and why he comes here with his band to play.

Bono and Martin have been friends for some time he spoke to the Liberal party convention two years ago and has long campaigned for Canada to give 0.7 percent of its GDP to world relief, reported AP. P.T.

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