LONDON – George Clooney took a break from promoting his latest film Tuesday to meet with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as he continued pressing governments to speak out about China's foreign policy in Sudan.
The two met as the Olympic torch arrived in San Francisco for the only North American stop in the Beijing Olympic torch relay, which has been dogged by human rights protesters in London, Paris and Istanbul.
The protests have been fueled by anger over China's human rights record, its grip on Tibet and China's support for Sudan despite years of bloodshed in the country's western Darfur region.
"I think the protests are good. They've been warned for a while that there was going to be some protests," Clooney told reporters on the red carpet for the British premiere of his new film, "Leatherheads."
Brown praised the 46-year-old actor's role in drawing attention to violence in Darfur.
Only 9,200 troops and police of the 26,000 authorized are on the ground in Darfur, where violent conflict since 2003 has displaced some 4.27 million civilians and left more than 200,000 people dead.
Brown agreed the deployment was moving too slowly, and that humanitarian aid efforts were being hampered by poor access for aid workers.
"The situation in Darfur is unacceptable," Brown said after a meeting with Clooney, announced only after it took place.
"The rebels and government continue to openly flout UNSC (United Nations Security Council) resolutions through attacks on civilians," Brown said in a statement.
Brown praised Clooney's role "in drawing attention to this crisis — this is a humanitarian tragedy of colossal proportions and the world must take note and act."
Clooney — who has been named a U.N. peace envoy — has publicly spoken several times about the crisis in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and about 2.5 million people displaced in three years of fighting between African rebels and government troops allied with Arab militia known as janjaweed.
China is a major trading partner with Sudan, and Beijing has resisted United Nations attempts to force Sudan to accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur.
Brown said Britain was working with the international community and others to pressure all sides in the conflict to agree to a cease fire, start peace talks and allow peacekeepers to deploy.
Fighting in Darfur began in 2003 when ethnic African tribesman took up arms, complaining of decades of discrimination by Sudan's Arab-dominated government. The government is accused of unleashing militia forces to commit atrocities against ethnic African communities in the fight with rebel groups.