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U2's Bono to urge U.S. politicians not to cut aid programs

Singer Bono of the band U2 speaks at the opening session of the Oslo Forum in Norway June 18, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Singer Bono of the band U2 speaks at the opening session of the Oslo Forum in Norway June 18, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Irish rocker and anti-poverty campaigner Bono will appeal to Democrats and Republicans during a visit to Washington this week to spare U.S. development assistance programs from cuts as Congress tries to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending reductions early next year.

The U2 lead singer's visit comes as the Obama administration and congressional leaders try to forge a deal in coming weeks to avoid the economy hitting the "fiscal cliff" - tax increases and spending cuts worth $600 billion starting in January if Congress does not act.

Analysts say the absence of a deal could shock the United States, the world's biggest economy, back into recession.

Kathy McKiernan, spokeswoman for the ONE Campaign, said Bono will hold talks with congressional lawmakers and senior Obama administration officials during the November 12-14 visit.

During meetings he will stress the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance programs and the need to preserve them to avoid putting at risk progress made in fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, she said.

Bono, a long-time advocate for the poor, will argue that U.S. government-funded schemes that support life-saving treatments for HIV/AIDS sufferers, nutrition programs for malnourished children, and emergency food aid make up just 1 percent of the U.S. government budget but are helping to save tens of millions of lives in impoverished nations.

The One Campaign would not elaborate which lawmakers and senior Obama administration officials Bono will meet.

On Monday, Bono will discuss the power of social movements with students at Georgetown University. He will also meet new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim for a web cast discussion on Wednesday on the challenges of eradicating poverty.

(Editing by W Simon)

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