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Bono feels "exploited" by Berlusconi magazine

ROME (Reuters) - Irish rocker and charity champion Bono has written to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to complain about how his picture was used in a magazine listing the government's achievements ahead of elections next week.

"Mr. Berlusconi, as flattered as I can be of appearing in your brochure, I also feel a bit exploited," Bono said in the letter, a copy of which was printed on the front page of the Corriere della Sera daily on Sunday.

The glossy, 161-page magazine was published by Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party and has been sent to millions of Italian households ahead of the April 9-10 ballot.

It is full of photos of an ever-smiling prime minister addressing crowds and conversing with world leaders.

At one point it features a picture of Bono, lead singer of supergroup U2, who has spearheaded a campaign to persuade the leaders of the Group of Eight richest nations to double aid to Africa.

The caption reads: "The Irish star is grateful to the prime minister for the actions promoted by the Italian government toward poor countries."

In his letter, Bono said he recalled a conversation with Berlusconi during which the prime minister pledged to fulfil the promises made by the G8 in Gleneagles, Scotland, last year in a statement signed by Berlusconi along with the other leaders.

He said Italy would have to more than double its handouts by 2010 to honor its commitment.

"If your commitment is real and your signature is trustworthy, then the world wants to know how Italy intends to reach this target," Bono said in the letter, translated into Italian by Corriere. "For now you haven't offered any explanation, even though luckily there is still some time."

The government replied to Bono in a statement on Sunday.

"The difficulties we are going through -- and we are not the only ones -- due to the unfavorable economic context, are visible to all and can cause some delays, but certainly not the non-fulfillment (of Italy's commitments)," it said.

"We will show with the facts the strength of our commitment to the poorest countries."

Italy gives the smallest amount of aid contributions in real terms within the G8, and despite pledges to boost the handouts, they have actually dropped over the past few years.

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