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THE POPE, JUST HANGING OUT

Irish pop star Bono said on Thursday that he gave Pope John Paul II his sunglasses when he met him at an audience to appeal for rich countries to mark the millennium by canceling Third World debt.

Asked by reporters whether he wore a tie for the occasion, Bono said: "I was wearing sunglasses, but he took them!" The pope tried on the wraparound shades, he said.

Before the audience, Bono, leader of the group U2, said he was delighted to be meeting the pope, who has long campaigned for reducing Third World debt to help the poor.

"(The pope's) everyday courage amazes me. As aged as he is and as infirm as he has been, he will, you know, hang out with a bunch of pop stars," Bono said.

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