George Clooney, right, has used his high public profile
to highlight the Darfur crisis [AFP] 
Hollywood actor George Clooney is putting pressure on an Olympic sponsor to speak out over China's foreign policy in Sudan.

The Hollywood actor promotes Omega Watches, one of the global Olympic sponsors of the Beijing Games.

"I have talked with Omega (about China) for over a year and will continue to talk to Omega,'' Clooney told the BBC.

"I have and will go to the places I and China do business and ask for help.''

Clooney has publicly spoken several times about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, 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.

Trading partners

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.

The push to link the Beijing Games to the Darfur crisis gained wide attention last month when Hollywood director Steven Spielberg withdrew as an artistic adviser to the opening and closing ceremonies.

"Last year I took Olympic athletes Joey Cheek and Tegla Loroupe to Beijing to meet with the heads of the Chinese government,'' Clooney said.

"I have and will continue to ask China to use its considerable leverage with the government of Sudan.''

Omega has been the official timekeeper for the Olympics since 1932.

'Ethical views'

Swatch Group chief executive Nick Hayek, whose company owns Omega, said executives had discussed the issue with Clooney.

"We have full respect for his strong engagement in the fight for the good cause and share his opinion, especially concerning Darfur, and we are proud to work with a person who has such high ethical views,'' Hayek told the BBC.

"It is our policy not to get involved in politics because it would not serve the cause of the sport which is one most noble human endeavors for creating understanding and peace all over the world.''

Hayek said Omega would address China's association with Sudan through direct high-level contacts rather than publicly.

"Of course, it is a continuous process but we do it the Swiss way of 'little strokes fell great oaks,''' Hayek said.

Source: Agencies