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Let's seize the chance to meet Bono's challenge

Letter from Westminster - 4 October 2004

Labour welcomed a special guest to its conference in Brighton last week. And it wasn't a politician. U2 frontman and international debt campaigner, Bono, visited to urge the Government to lead the world in tackling global poverty and injustice when Britain takes the reins of the G8 and European Union next year.

'I know progress when I see it', he said. 'And I know forward momentum when I feel it'. I agree. Since Labour took office, the UK aid budget has nearly doubled, and is set to meet the UN target of 0.7% of national income within a decade. We've led the fight for debt relief - providing $70 billion for the world's poorest countries - and we're now taking the lead again on multilateral debt. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Commission is hard at work developing a new consensus on a plan for Africa, going beyond aid and trade to look at conflict resolution, corruption, education, killer diseases, water and infrastructure.

However, in 2000 the whole world came together to make some crucial promises: that by 2015 every child would have a primary education; avoidable infant and maternal deaths would end; and that poverty would halve. On current rates of progress, in Sub-Saharan Africa these promises will not be delivered until 2130 at the earliest: well over one hundred years late.

Next year we have a unique opportunity to ensure countries work together even harder and even faster to make the breakthrough. I believe we must seize this chance if we are to meet Bono's challenge: to put right a relationship that has been so very wrong for so very long.

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