updated 6/7/2005 8:44:42 AM ET 2005-06-07T12:44:42

Irish rock band U2's lead singer Bono will visit European Union headquarters later this week to appeal for EU leaders to cancel debts, double aid and make trade fair for the world's poorest nations, EU officials said Tuesday.

EU spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told reporters the rock star would visit the European Commission on Thursday to hold talks with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Ahrenkilde Hansen said discussions would focus "first and foremost on Africa, which the president has made a flagship issue for the commission."

The summit of EU leaders next week is set to endorse a decision by EU development ministers to increase spending to ensure that the 25-nation bloc helps to meet a U.N. target to halve world poverty by 2015.

It remained unclear, however, where the newly pledged billions would come from. Next month's Group of Eight leaders summit, of which the EU is a member, is also to address the issue.

The EU ministers last month agreed to boost the EU's development aid by some 20 billion euros ($25 billion) a year starting in 2010, most of which will be directed at the world's poorest nations, in Africa.

Currently only four countries — Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden — are meeting a 1970 goal for developed nations to commit 0.7 percent of their gross national income to development aid.

Bono and other music artists and movie stars have backed a worldwide campaign, the Global Call to Action against Poverty, aiming to push richer Western governments to boost aid and offer better trade deals to poorer countries.

Bono is to participate among other stars in a five-city concert next month to push governments to find a solution to African poverty.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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