Rock star Bono and writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez have signed a statement that has appeared in American newspapers - defending Argentina's debt restructuring offer.

The U2 singer, NOBEL literature laureate Marquez and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev have all added their signature to the quarter-page advertisement proclaiming: "Argentina, a responsible country, a responsible proposal."

The ad, which appears in The New York Times and THE FINANCIAL TIMES, continues: "Any increase in the fiscal effort would ignore the Argentine social reality.

"Argentina's sincere and realistic proposal to creditors should be understood within this context, taking into account the historic perspective of a developing country and its inhabitants' social reality."

Other celebrities to sign include Emma Thompson, Viggo Mortensen and world chess champion ANATOLY KARPOV.

At present, 50 per cent of the Argentine population live in poverty and 15 per cent are unemployed.

30/07/2004 17:50