- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Academy Award-winning actor and activist George Clooney met privately Monday night with President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to urge the new administration’s action on the crisis in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

Mr. Clooney told reporters that Mr. Obama said once a foreign policy review is completed, he would appoint a “full-time, high-level envoy” to the region to report directly to the White House.

“The administration has assured me that Darfur is one of a small handful of foreign-policy reviews being undertaken at the [most senior] level,” Mr. Clooney said.

He said the envoy would be “a huge policy step” since, in many cases, envoys have only been in the region “when the fire starts.”

The actor, who made a documentary highlighting the Darfur conflict and has been outspoken on the issue, said it was “nice to hear” that the region is a priority for the Obama White House.

“There was some concern that this could fall off the radar,” he said. “There’s quite a few other things [the administration is tackling], but they assured me this is high on their agenda.”

He also delivered to Mr. Obama 250,000 postcards from Americans who want the new president to help end the crisis in Darfur.

“This is a moment in time with a brand-new administration,” Mr. Clooney said, adding that Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden were active on the issue “long before” winning the election. He also praised the work of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. Clooney said he was not seeking government money or government troops.

“It’s about involvement, it’s about diplomacy,” he said, adding it is “not something the U.S. could do alone.”

The meeting was not announced beforehand by the White House; the actor had been scheduled to meet with Mr. Biden only, but ended up getting face time with both men.

An official statement from the vice president’s office described the meeting.

“The Vice President met this evening with George Clooney to discuss Mr. Clooney’s recent trip to Eastern Chad, where he visited Darfurian refugee camps,” the statement read.

“The Vice President informed Mr. Clooney about the Administration’s ongoing review of Sudan policy and welcomed his observations from his trip. The Vice President thanked Mr. Clooney for his work on this issue, which he believes is an important contribution to the public’s understanding of the conflict in Darfur.”