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Bono and Geldof slate G8 for 'grotesque pantomime'

IRISH rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof were leading the pack of critics of the $60bn(€45bn) effort to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria announced at the G8 summit yesterday.

U2 frontman Bono, who has led a campaign seeking more help for Africa, said the old promises have become harder to keep.

"They say $60bn for AIDS, TB and malaria and it sounds great, but that's not earmarked for Africa, it's a global figure and there's no timeline," he said.

"I am exasperated. I think it is deliberately the language of obfuscation. It is deliberately misleading."

Bob Geldof, the Boomtown Rats co-founder who nurtured the historic Live Aid concert in 1985 and the series of Live 8 concerts in 2005, seethed, calling the initiative - indeed, the whole summit - a "grotesque pantomime".

"Do me a favour, get serious guys, get serious," he said of the leaders of Britain, Italy, Canada, the United States, France, Russia, Germany and Japan. "This wasn't serious.

"This was a farce. A total farce."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the G8 had agreed on a programme worth more than $60bn but in its final communique, the amount pledged had no timeframe and did not specifically single out Africa as the beneficiary.

"The key words to look for here are 'Africa' and 'global' and how, within one paragraph, they switch from what looks like a promise to near universal access for Africa suddenly into a global promise," Bono said.

"Obviously, I understand if they think that rock stars might not be able to add and subtract or spell and read, but there's some people around here who can."

An array of independent aid groups and African academics said the declaration fell short of the goals first unveiled two years ago in Gleneagles, Scotland.

* To add to his woes, Bono was snubbed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G8.

Having met with President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the talks, Bono was told Mr Harper was too busy to talk to him.

Harper, a somewhat wooden figure regularly mocked for his lack of flair, told reporters that meeting Bono was not a priority.

"I've got to say that meeting celebrities isn't kind of my shtick, that was the shtick of the previous guy," said Harper in a dig at his predecessor Paul Martin, who met Bono regularly.