U2's Bono Receives Neruda Award in Chile

Monday, February 27th 2006, 9:25 am
By: News On 6

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ President Ricardo Lagos gave Bono the country's highest award for the arts on Sunday and told the U2 singer he should learn to play the traditional Andean instrument known as the charango.

The arts medal is named after late Chilean Nobel Prize laureate Pablo Neruda, a poet Bono said he greatly admired.

``He moved me very much,'' Bono said of Neruda, who died in 1973.

During the ceremony at the La Moneda presidential palace, Lagos also presented Bono with a charango, a small lute-like instrument.

``When we were talking before, Bono told me that one must study throughout one's life,'' Lagos said. ``So for his next concert here, I hope he's learned how to play the charango.''

It was not the only distinction for Bono during U2's stop in Chile for a concert Sunday night in Santiago's main soccer stadium.

Shortly before the concert, Bono received Amnesty International's 2005 ``Ambassador of Conscience'' award, which was also granted to the other members of U2: guitarist The Edge, drummer Larry Mullen Jr., bassist Adam Clayton and manager Paul McGuinness.

The ceremony was attended by President-elect Michelle Bachelet, Chile's first female leader, who is to be inaugurated on March 11.

``You are a reminder to all of us that the world is not changed only by politicians and governments,'' Bachelet told the musicians. ``The world is changed by all of us.''

After the ceremony, Bono met with relatives of political dissidents who disappeared during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990.

Bono has met with leaders and received gifts during other stops on the band's swing through Latin America. While in Brazil he discussed the government's anti-poverty program with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and received a packet of condoms and anti-AIDS information from the Health Ministry.