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Geldof sees Live 8 as 'final push'

Bob Geldof: "We are dealing with the roots of that (African) poverty."



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(CNN) -- Bob Geldof, the Irish rocker who is organizing Live 8, said Thursday that this weekend's concerts in 10 cities across the globe will be the "final push" in getting the world's richest leaders to come to the aid of impoverished Africa.

In an interview with CNN, Geldof said the goal of doubling aid for Africa by 2010 to $25 billion -- laid out by the Commission for Africa, which is being spearheaded by British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- has nearly been met.

Just $2 billion short of the goal, Geldof said he hopes G8 leaders will pledge the funds at next week's summit in Scotland.

"We're almost there," he said. "We're within $2 billion. I think we can knock that off in Gleneagles."

"I've been on the phone with Bono and we're going, 'Is this happening?' Live 8 ... is actually the final push now. It's no longer the startup engine."

The Live 8 concerts will bring together 150 bands in 10 different cities on Saturday, including London, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Philadelphia and Johannesburg, South Africa. On that day, organizers hope millions of people will also gather in the streets of London, Washington, Berlin, Paris, Rome and Edinburgh, Scotland as part of "The Long Walk to Justice."

Music buffs are most excited about the London concert, which will reunite Pink Floyd's Roger Waters and David Gilmour for the first time in decades.

"Any squabble Roger and the band have had in the past are so petty in this context, and if re-forming for this concert will help focus attention, then it's got to be worthwhile," Gilmour said in a statement on the band's Web site.

Waters added he was excited to "be given the opportunity to put the band back together, even if it's only for a few numbers."

"It's great to be asked to help Bob raise public awareness about third world debt and poverty."

Geldof -- who organized the original two Live Aid concerts in 1985 and vowed he'd never do it again -- said the need to bring aid to Africa is a cause too important to ignore.

"The only constant in economic decline is Africa," he said. "And we can get to the root of that, and we can stop people dying live on our screens every night on CNN if we really solve this."

He said organizers won't be able to "stop the dying immediately, but we are dealing with the roots of that poverty."

Geldof also heaped praise on U.S. President George W. Bush, who earlier Thursday announced he was proposing a doubling of U.S. aid to Africa by 2010 -- an estimated $8.6 billion that year, up from $4.3 billion in 2004.

"This is the first time we have heard this sort of language," he said. "This is very, very positive indeed."

U2 lead singer Bono said this year's event differs greatly in focus from the original Live Aid, which focused on charitable contributions from the public.

"This is not about charity. This is about justice," Bono told CNN. "This is about people getting out on the streets, tuning in, being educated about what their tax dollars can achieve in the impoverished continent of Africa and elsewhere."

Bono also took on critics who have charged that he and Geldof are being used by the powerful G8 leaders.

"Is there some degree of being used here? Yes," Bono said. "But I am not a cheap date, and neither is Bob Geldof."

Referring to Blair's leadership on the Commission for Africa, he added, "We've got to get out there and applaud them when they do the right thing and then boo them and hiss them when they do the wrong thing."

The cities where the 10 concerts will be on Saturday are: London; Edinburgh; Paris; Berlin; Rome; Philadelphia; Barrie, Ontario, Canada; Tokyo; Johannesburg; and Moscow.

According to Live 8's Web site, it hopes to have "the largest ever TV audience; the busiest Web site in the world; the largest ever online petition -- The Live 8 list; the largest ever text petition; the largest ever response to a TV show."

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