Paul Wolfowitz, whose nomination as World Bank president has stirred controversy, discussed poverty and development issues with Irish rock star Bono in two phone conversations Thursday, an adviser said.
Wolfowitz adviser Kevin Kellems told Reuters the deputy defense secretary initiated the lengthy conversations with the lead singer of the rock group U2, whose name had been bandied about for the World Bank presidency.
President Bush Wednesday named Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, to be the next World Bank president, but the choice has been controversial, especially in Europe.
An endorsement by Bono, who campaigns extensively for African aid and debt relief, could defuse some of the criticism of Wolfowitz.
Kellems said the discussions “were incredibly substantive about reducing poverty, about development, about the opportunity to help people that the World Bank presidency provides and about charitable giving and social progress around the globe.
“They clicked. They were very enthusiastic, detailed and lengthy conversations,” Kellems said.
Tom Hart, government relations director for DATA -- Debt, AIDS, Trade and Africa -- the lobby group co-founded by Bono, said the rock star believed it was important to share his views on Africa and poverty with Wolfowitz.
“Bono thought it was important that he put forward the issues that are critical to the World Bank, like debt cancellation, aid effectiveness and a real focus on poverty reduction,” Hart said.
Wolfowitz first telephoned Bono Wednesday to schedule the conversations. In the past 24 hours, Wolfowitz had spoken with a broad range of foreign leaders, bank officials and advocates for poverty reduction and international development, aides said.