George and Amal Clooney meet Merkel to discuss refugees

BERLIN: Actor George Clooney and his lawyer wife Amal had a private meeting Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the crisis in Syria and Europe's efforts to help refugees.

The Clooneys were accompanied by David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary who now heads the aid group International Rescue Committee.

"We (...) talked about the responsibilities of all states, not just European states but states around the world to deal with what is a global problem, not just a Syrian problem or a German issue," Miliband told The Associated Press after the 40-minute meeting at Merkel's office.

"It's very clear that Mrs Merkel has been showing very strong leadership and example not just to Europe but globally," he added. "We wanted to hear from her and support what she's doing."

Miliband said it was the actor's idea to ask for a meeting with Merkel, who has received both applause and criticism for letting hundreds of thousands of refugees come to Germany over the past year.

Clooney, who is known for his human rights work and has supported the IRC on other projects, is currently attending the Berlin Film Festival to showcase his new movie "Hail, Caesar!"

"It wouldn't be right to come to Berlin and have a film festival and pretend there wasn't a big global issue for which Germany was in the eye of the storm," said Miliband.

Merkel told reporters later Friday that she had had "a very good conversation" with the Clooneys and Miliband, exchanging ideas for how aid groups and governments can cooperate to encourage citizens to volunteer to help refugees.

The Clooneys planned to meet with refugees in Berlin later Friday.