Amal and George Clooney discuss refugee crisis with Merkel

Hollywood star and political activist George Clooney and his wife Amal, a human rights lawyer, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday to discuss the refugee crisis.

"We talked about how non-government organizations and governments can work together," Merkel said following the meeting, which lasted about one hour. "It was a very good discussion," she said.

The meeting was also attended by the head of the New York-based aid group the International Rescue Committee, former British foreign minister David Miliband.

Clooney had Thursday indicated that he would talk to the German leader about how he could help and what he could do in connection with the migration crisis.

Merkel's handling of refugee policy, which followed her decision in September to open Germany's borders to refugees mainly fleeing wars in the Middle East and Africa, has sparked political tensions in Europe's biggest economy.

About 1.1 million migrants and refugees entered Germany in 2015.

At the opening of the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday, when Clooney was asked his view on the chancellor's refugee policy, he said: "I absolutely agree with it."

The 54-year-old actor - who is hugely popular in Germany and a well-known activist for humanitarian causes - was at the Berlinale for the launch of his latest film, Hail, Caesar!, in which he plays a dimwitted actor.

The movie from Oscar-winning US directors Joel and Ethan Coen launched the 66th Berlinale at Thursday's gala ceremony.

The plight of refugees around the world has emerged as a major theme at this year's Berlinale.

In addition to screening several movies based on refugee stories, the festival has offered free tickets to asylum seekers living in the German capital as well as jobs during the 11-day movie showcase.

Underlining the importance to Clooney of his involvement in political causes, he hit back at a questioner who asked him at Thursday's press conference what he was doing to help out with the refugee crisis.

After joking around with the directors and the film's cast, the Clooney charm offensive quickly vanished and he turned the question back on the questioner asking: "What are you doing about it?"

"I spend a lot of my time working on these things, and it's an odd thing to have someone stand up and ask, 'What are you doing about it?'," he said.

He went on to say: "I have been to a lot of dangerous places and had meetings with refugees."

Clooney said he wanted to make a film about Darfur, the western Sudanese region, but had still not found the right script.

The problem for filmmakers in producing movies about current global crises is the amount of time it takes to produce a film, he added.

Clooney has condemned the Iraq war, campaigned against genocide in Darfur, Sudan, endorsed US President Barack Obama, and raised millions of dollars for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

"The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way," he said.

"Things happen, scripts are written, and it takes a couple of years before people are actually making films," he said.

To that extent, Clooney said, "these are stories best told in the news media."

Last update: Fri, 12/02/2016 - 21:49

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