U2's Bono honored in Chile with Neruda award

President Ricardo Lagos gave U2 frontman Bono the country's highest award for the arts on Sunday and told him he should learn to play the traditional Andean instrument known as the "charango."

The arts medal is named after late Chilean Nobel Prize laureate Pablo Neruda, a poet Bono said he greatly admired.

"He moved me very much," Bono said of Neruda, who died in 1973.

During the ceremony at the La Moneda presidential palace, Lagos also presented Bono with a charango, a small lute-like Andean folk instrument.

"When we were talking before, Bono told me that one must study throughout one's life," Lagos said. "So for his next concert here, I hope he's learned how to play the charango."

It was not the only distinction for Bono during U2's stop in Chile for a concert Sunday night before a crowd of nearly 80,000 people expected in Santiago's main soccer stadium.

Shortly before the concert, Bono was to receive Amnesty International's "Ambassador of Conscience" award for 2005, which was also granted to the other members of U2  Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton and manager Paul McGuinness. The ceremony will be attended by President-elect Michelle Bachelet, Chile's first female leader, who is to be inaugurated on March 11.

Bono has met with leaders and received gifts during other stops on band's swing through Latin America. While in Brazil he discussed the government's anti-poverty program with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and received a packet of condoms and anti-AIDS information from the Health Ministry, reports AP.


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