Spielberg, U.N. chief seek ways to keep focus on Darfur

From a Times Staff Writer

Film director Steven Spielberg has met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to brainstorm ways to keep the spotlight on the troubled Darfur region as world concern shifts to places such as Tibet and Zimbabwe.

The director pitched a few ideas at the Tuesday session, but any new project is still in development, U.N. officials and Spielberg's spokesman said.

"We went there to offer help in any way that we could," said spokesman Andy Spahn. "We will continue to try to focus public attention on the issue and to try to arrange meetings with those who have influence in Sudan."

Ban and Spielberg discussed the possibility of a conference on Sudan around a summit of the Group of 8 industrialized nations this summer. New York Times columnist Nick Kristof proposed this week that such a meeting take place in Rwanda, against the resonant backdrop of a recent genocide.

Spielberg stepped down in February from his post advising on the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Summer Olympics to protest China's continuing support of the Sudanese government and its role in violence in Darfur. When he stepped down, he said that he had spent a year talking with Chinese officials about the issue, but was not satisfied with the results.

Spielberg's friend, Chinese director Zhang Yimou, brought him onto the Olympics committee. One idea that has been floated is to bring Chinese film luminaries onto the Darfur campaign, though those present at Tuesday's meeting would not confirm that idea was in the script.

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