Former President George Bush presented the inaugural George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership to Bono.

Irish rock star Bono, frontman of world-famous U2, was on Thursday awarded the inaugural George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership. The former US President honored the U2 singer for his work in combating the HIV/AIDS crisis and poverty in Africa.

"It's a huge honor to [win] this award, and I'm here to honor your leadership on the greatest health intervention in the history of medicine," Bono told Bush Thursday.

"That's what I'm not sure people understand: 13 million from PEPFAR [President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief], and if you add the Global Relief Fund, it's probably been 21 million lives have been saved by this work that you began and led and I'm here to honor that."

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"The truth of the matter is, [PEPFAR] never would have made it out of Congress had you not been engaged,” Bush said in response.  

“The first time I met you, you knew more statistics, like you were coming right out of the CIA.

"Here's the thing about Bono that people got to understand: I like to say he's a real deal. This is a guy who has got a huge heart, obviously a talent, but cares so much about the human condition that he spends an enormous amount of time and capital on saving lives."

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Bono performing with U2 at the 2018 Grammys.

Bono performing with U2 at the 2018 Grammys.

Bono also had some harsh words for the current US administration at the award ceremony streamed from the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, stating: "Tackling a virus like this, if you're not as fast or faster than the virus, it's outrunning you. So all the progress that we made over the years can be undone.

"This was a moonshot, and [Bush] started something that was kind of 'put America on the Moon' in this regard, and I feel like we're just about to land on the Moon, and right now with this administration, we have some problems because they're talking about turning back. And I think we've got to be very hard headed but making the argument for saving lives. It would be a very un-American thing to get all the way to the Moon and not put an American flag on it."