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May 14th, 2002

Bono and Paul aka Paul and Paul @ 02:23 pm

Talk about odd couples — Paul O'Neill, the ramrod straight, silver-haired Republican Treasury Secretary and Bono, the shaggy-haired, Irish rock star, with the wraparound sunglasses.

They are pairing up, not for the summer concert circuit, but a 10-day tour of some of the most destitute countries in the world in sub-Saharan Africa.

The idea for the tour, which will make stops in Ghana, Uganda, South Africa and Ethiopia, was hatched after an initial meeting in O'Neill's office a year ago, a discussion O'Neill says he was first very reluctant to have.

"I said, 'He just wants to use me and I don't have time for this,'" O'Neill recounted recently. He relented and agreed to a 30-minute meeting which expanded into a 90-minute brainstorming session with O'Neill coming away impressed at the depth of Bono's knowledge and commitment.

"He understood economic theory and he understood the impact of colonialism. He knew what it was like to go into an HIV-AIDS clinic and see three people in a bed all dying together and care about it and know it doesn't have to be that way," O'Neill said.

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