Bono, Pearl Jam kick-start G20 protests


MELBOURNE - U2 frontman Bono and rock band Pearl Jam performed a surprise duet on Friday at an open air concert on the sidelines of the Melbourne G20 summit, calling for an end to world poverty and kick-starting three days of protests.

Police have locked down parts of Australia's second biggest city to stop protesters reaching the summit of finance ministers and central bankers taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

Violent anti-globalization protests marred a World Economic Forum in Melbourne in 2000. The Stop G-20 group plans a major rally on Saturday to try to disrupt the summit.

Church and aid groups were kicking off three days of carnival protests on Friday when ministers and bankers began arriving. Organizers say thousands of people are expected to protest.

Singing "Rockin' In The Free World", Bono called on 14,000 fans at the free "Make Poverty History Concert" to demand world politicians step up the fight against global poverty.

"Politicians have to do what you tell them to do. We are gonna make poverty history," Bono, a leading voice in the Make Poverty History coalition, told a cheering crowd in an amphitheater a short walk from the G20 venue.

The first protesters to arrive at the summit venue on Friday, the G20 Christian Collective, set up a pray "embassy" beside barricades. They plan to camp out for three days and nights, some eating only rice and water to show solidarity with the poor.

Aid groups are calling on the G20 to take action to fight against poverty, primarily through debt relief.

Global economic conditions and energy security will head the agenda of the Melbourne summit, with stalled world trade talks and global warming likely also to figure in talks.

The G20 represents 20 industrialized and developing nations, from economic powerhouses the United States and China to developing states Mexico and Indonesia, and meets annually to discuss world economics and trade.

Aid groups protesting in Melbourne claimed the U.S.-led war on terrorism was soaking up global aid.

"We cannot win the war on terror unless we win the war on poverty," said Reverend Tim Costello, brother of Australia's treasurer and co-chairman of the Make Poverty History coalition.

"Global warming, poverty and terror are all linked and it takes a global effort," Costello told the rock concert.

Australia's AID/WATCH group said that despite a rise in global aid, an "excessive quantity" of aid was tied up in conflict zones linked to the war on terror. It said a 2006 review of global aid found that of $30 billion in new aid since the war on terror began, $10 billion had gone to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The annual review of international aid flows is damning in its assessment of the short-sightedness of rich nations, pursuing their own security concerns through their aid expenditure," AID/WATCH said in a statement.

The aid group said Australia was a prime example of linking aid to security, through an interventionist policy adopted after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

"Central to the post 9/11 development agenda is the concept of security. As Australia dons the mantle of 'regional sheriff', it has invoked the fear of failed or "fragile" states as justification for a newly interventionist aid policy, one that strays far from notions of human security," said AID/WATCH.

"Aid is now centered on good governance, law and order and military assistance, and geared to Australian strategic interests rather than to regional development priorities."