Bush, Bono Clash Over AIDS Funding

Bono, the Irish rock star and social activist, said Tuesday he had a "good ol' row" with President Bush over global AIDS funding.

"He's very passionate about these problems and I believe him," Bono said after their White House meeting. "I just can't agree with the numbers."

Mr. Bush signed the Global AIDS Act in May that authorized $3 billion to fund global AIDS programs for 2004, but Congress has allocated only $2 billion. Both the president and members of Congress say developing countries wouldn't be able to make use of the extra money.

Bono said he's very angry but he's trying to calm down and get the president to open "America's wallet."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said after the Bono-Bush meeting, "The president has shown unprecedented leadership in the fight against AIDS."

This is not the first Bono involvement with the administration on AIDS policy. He traveled to South Africa in May 2002 with then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to see firsthand the situation in that country.

He also has met with French President Jacques Chirac to push for increased spending on AIDS.

Lead singer for the band U2, Bono has long championed political causes, but he said AIDS is different.

"The AIDS emergency is just that. It's not a cause. We're not here peddling a cause. We're not looking to get into America's wallet for another cause. Several thousand people dying a day is not a cause, it's an emergency," Bono said at a news conference after his meeting with Mr. Bush.

Bono is founder of Debt AIDS Trade Africa, which works with religious groups concerned with global disease and hunger issues.