New York

Rocker Bono has called on the world's top businessmen to help end global poverty.

The U2 frontman has been a keen campaigner for increased overseas aid for years but he has now admitted private sector commerce could be the solution. The singer told a United Nations conference on aid in New York City that he was "late" to realise increased trade could be the answer to ending poverty.

He also told delegates he found it "hard to say" after years of lobbying governments and politicians to hand over huge sums to impoverished nations. Bono said, "I'm late to realising that it's you guys, it's the private sector, it's commerce that's going to take the majority of people out of extreme poverty. And, as an activist, I almost found that hard to say."

However, a spokesman for the star's ONE foundation has denied the comments mark a U-turn for the singer, telling Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "(Bono has) always recognised the important role that governments and the private sector must both play in the fight against extreme poverty." Moreover, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Bono have called on the UN to make universal internet access by 2020 a global priority.

Zuckerberg also addressed the 70th annual UN General Assembly session as well as the UN Private Sector Forum, which was also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “World leaders are here at the UN to approve a new set of Global Goals that address fundamental challenges for the world in the coming years,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“Achieving universal internet access is one of those challenges, and governments have agreed to work towards this by 2020 as part of the Global Goals. To help make this a reality, I announced a global call-to-action in partnership with ONE and supported by many leaders and organisations. “Connecting the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation. More than 4 billion people don’t have a voice online but you do,” Zuckerberg said.