Spielberg joins Hollywood chorus on Darfur


Steven Spielberg on Friday joined the chorus of Hollywood stars seeking an end to killing in the Darfur region of Sudan by calling on China to pressure the African nation into accepting U.N. peacekeepers.

Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director of blockbuster films ranging from "Jaws" to "Schindler's List," released a letter he sent to Chinese President Hu Jintao in April saying he recently came to understand China's strategic support of Sudan.

The letter comes at a time when Beijing is preparing for the 2008 Olympic Games, and some groups and politicians around the world are urging a boycott due to China's economic ties to Sudan. In his letter, Spielberg notes he will play a role in the Olympic Games as an "artistic advisor."

"I add my voice to those who ask that China change its policy toward Sudan and pressure the Sudanese government to accept the entrance of United Nations peacekeepers to protect the victims of genocide in Darfur," Spielberg wrote.

He asked to meet with Hu, but so far the Chinese president has not responded, said Spielberg's spokesman, Marvin Levy.

Levy said he was certain Hu received and read the letter.

Separately on Friday, celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie issued a statement saying their foundation donated $1 million to agencies working in and around Darfur.

But Spielberg's involvement is new, and in his letter to Hu, the director noted the issue of genocide is especially close to him because of his work with the Los Angeles-based USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.

Spielberg established the foundation to document the plight of Jews under the Nazis, and it has videotaped testimonies of some 52,000 Holocaust survivors from 56 countries to chronicle the atrocities committed against them.

Spielberg wrote that the mission of the foundation is "to use those testimonies to overcome intolerance, prejudice, bigotry and the suffering they cause."

"We are doing that now in many countries around the world, and I hope that China will someday be one of them," he said.

China buys much of Sudan's oil and has used its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to resist sending peacekeepers to the region without the African country's consent.