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Spielberg May Quit Beijing Olympics Role Over Darfur

A spokesman for Steven Spielberg says the film director may quit his involvement with the 2008 Beijing Olympics unless China does more to stop the violence in Darfur.

Andy Spahn told the ABC news network in an article on its web site that the director will decide in the next few weeks whether to resign from his position as artistic adviser to the games.

In an open letter sent in April, Spielberg urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to take a harder line towards the Sudanese government. In it, Spielberg mentioned his work for the Shoah Foundation, which records testimony of survivors of the Holocaust during World War II.

The letter was prompted by criticism from actress Mia Farrow, who challenged Spielberg to use his involvement in the games to help the citizens of Darfur.

Farrow and other Darfur activists have accused China of "bankrolling Darfur's genocide" and labeled the 2008 the "Genocide Olympics."

China disputes the charge and says it is responsible for persuading Sudan to accept a U.N.-led peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Since 2003, the conflict involving Sudanese-government-backed forces and rebels in Darfur has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced more than 2 million others.

China buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil and sells arms to Khartoum.

On Thursday, Darfur activist and Olympic speed skater Joey Creek delivered a petition signed by more than 40,000 people to China's embassy in Washington. The petition called on Beijing to intensify efforts to save Darfur civilians. Creek said Chinese officials reacted positively to his idea of organizing a joint visit by U.S. and Chinese athletes to Darfur.

The U.N. and Western governments have been pressing Sudan since November to agree to have an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur to help the 7,000-member African Union force trying to keep the peace in the western region.