LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Clooney apparently had a good reason for skipping out on Oscar night: He had a meeting with President Barack Obama.
The Oscar-winning actor appeared Monday on CNN’s “Larry King Live” and spoke of his visit earlier that morning with Obama to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Clooney said he told the president of his visit to camps in Chad where 250,000 refugees live, but he downplayed the risks he took to witness the suffering firsthand.
“I don’t think people should be going there and coming back and saying how it affected them,” Clooney told King via satellite from the White House lawn. “I think somehow we should all know that these people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth.”
Clooney, a U.N. Messenger of Peace, said he asked the president to appoint a full-time regional envoy who reports directly to the White House, and to ask China to set aside its business interests in the region and pressure Sudan to prevent atrocities.
The refugees need “what we do best, what we have done best since the start of this country – which is good, robust diplomacy all across the world,” he said.
Clooney said he delivered 250,000 postcards gathered by the Save Darfur organization to the president and Vice President Joe Biden. The actor said both were receptive.
Fighting erupted in 2003 as Darfur’s ethnic African rebels took up arms against Sudan’s government complaining of discrimination and neglect. Nearly 2.5 million people have been displaced by a conflict that has killed about 300,000 people.
Next week, the International Criminal Court is scheduled to rule on whether to proceed with an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for crimes in Darfur.
Clooney said his latest visit – his sixth to Darfur and Chad – was privately arranged. He traveled with journalists, including the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof and NBC’s Ann Curry, but the Sudanese government denied him a visa.
The 47-year-old actor also confirmed that he was going to appear in the last episode of NBC’s “ER” with Julianna Margulies. “So it should be fun,” Clooney said.