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Traveling with 'odd couple' Bono and O'Neill

Rock star, Treasury chief share thoughts on Africa trip

Kagan aboard the plane taking Bono and O'Neill to Africa.  

By Daryn Kagan

Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news around the world.

ACCRA, Ghana (CNN) -- It's not easy to get from Atlanta, Georgia, to Accra, Ghana, in western Africa. The challenge is even stiffer when you need to pick up one of the biggest rock stars in the world and the U.S. Treasury secretary along the way.

Photographer Dan Young and I flew commercial to Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. That's where we, along with producer Ted Winner, boarded a charter plane and headed overnight seven hours to Frankfurt.

Why Germany?

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was coming from a meeting of finance ministers in Bucharest, Romania.

CNN NewsPass Video 
Bono, O'Neill go to market in Ghana Watch it
Bono, O'Neill fight for Africa's poor Watch it
Archive: Kagan reports
Extra Information:
Map: Bono-O'Neill Tour

U2's Bono was coming from a weekend-long bachelor party for "The Edge," the band's lead guitarist. That gathering was held in New York City. I guess Frankfurt was the easiest place to meet up.

The difference in their previous destinations tells you all you need to know about how different these two men are.

Yet, somehow, each gets where the other is coming from when it comes to helping the people of Africa.

Their mission is to draw attention to Africa's problems of poverty, disease and debt. O'Neill also has taken the position that increased aid must and should be accompanied by results.

As we flew over Spain, Bono and O'Neill sat down and gave me their first interview as a team. Just me, Bono and the Treasury secretary talking Africa 35,000 feet over the Rock of Gibraltar. Today, I love my job. Even if I'm not sure, with all the travel and time changes, exactly which day it is.

Each man shared some personal tidbits.

''Y'know, I'm not easy," Bono shared halfway through our chat. ''I'm a rock star. I'm not tidy and I stay up late.''

Most probably studying the issues we will face on this trip. O'Neill will be the first to tell you Bono has this stuff down cold.

As for the Treasury secretary, he admitted that no, he has never been to a U2 concert. But the man is already quoting the band's lyrics.

''I still haven't found what I'm looking for,'' the secretary said when talking about finding a solution for solving Africa's problems.

''But maybe we will on this trip. And that will be a 'Beautiful Day.'''

The next 10 days are going to be fascinating. I hope you take the trip with me here on and on CNN.




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