George Clooney met at the White House with President Obama to use pressure and diplomacy to prevent violence — and an all out civil war — in Sudan as a Jan. 9 referendum approaches to split the country in two.
As was the case with a visit to the White House shortly after Obama took office, Clooney also commanded the attention of the media at a press conference on a driveway near the West Wing.
“At a time that is one of the most politicized times ever, this is something that everyone agrees on: If there’s some way to get ahead of this and stop it before it happens, we better,” said Clooney, who was joined by John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, an org devoted to ending genocide.
Clooney also was to meet with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and speak at a Council on Foreign Relations event this evening.
The actor’s major fear is that violence will once again escalate, leaving even fewer options for the international community to take action, whether through aggressive diplomacy, or throughthreat of sanctions and the freezing of the al-Bashir government’s banking assets.
In June, Clooney and Prendergast wrote an op-ed in USA Today in which they criticized U.S. policy in the region, noting that the “Obama administration has not taken a direct, leading role in the negotiations to avert renewed war in the South or to end the Darfur conflict.”
Clooney and Prendergast just returned from a trip to the region.
While it’s one thing for a celebrity to draw attention to an issue, it’s quite another for that performer to be taken seriously. Clooney not only commands a meeting with Obama and congressional leaders, but has garnered serious coverage from the press corps (i.e. the coverage is about the issue at hand, not his latest movie or who he is dating.)
A White House spokesman told ABC News that at the meeting with Clooney, “President Obama underscored the intensity of the United States’ efforts to ensure that the referendum be held on time and to urge the parties to choose the path of peace over renewed violence.”
At the UN General Assembly meeting in September, Obama discussed the threat of further genocide with other world leaders.
“We have an opportunity to stop (violence) before it happens,” Clooney told Ann Curry in an interview on “Today” this morning.
White House photo.