Italian Premier Exploited Me, Bono Says

Bono complained in a front-page commentary Sunday that he feels exploited by propaganda for the campaign of Italy's premier, which says the activist rock star is "grateful" to the leader for the nation's aid for poor countries.

Bono's photo appears midway through a 160-page glossy publication prepared by Silvio Berlusconi's party that is being delivered to millions of Italian voters before April 9-10 elections.

The publication says Bono "is grateful to the premier for action promoted by the Italian government on behalf of poor countries."

Bono, lead singer of the Irish group U2, wrote in the Milan Daily Corriere della Sera that, in a phone conversation, Berlusconi had committed himself to implementing a decision by the Group of Eight industrialized countries to cancel poor countries' debt so the money could be spent on health care and education.

"Tragically, in these last few years under this government, Italy has become the last in the list among the 22 richest nations of the world in terms of per capita spending on behalf of the Third World," Bono wrote.

The premier's office responded Sunday in a statement that the government "will stay faithful as ever" toward aid commitments. It cited Italy's economic problems for "some delay" in delivering on its promises.