Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Minnesota Congressman Meets Somalia President

February 19, 2013

Minnesota Congressman Meets Somali President

New York Times

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, visited Mogadishu on Tuesday and met with Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheik Mohamoud, in a rare visit to the strife-plagued country by a member of Congress.

Mr. Ellison, who is Muslim, was fulfilling a campaign promise. His district in Minnesota is home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of Somali emigrants.

“I represent my constituency, and I come here to see the country at first hand,” he told journalists in Mogadishu. “We met with the president first, and had very fruitful discussion about the United States and Somalia.”

Among the issues discussed were Somali refugees in Kenya and remittances from Somalis abroad, the congressman said.

He was greeted at the airport by cheering crowds holding American and Somali flags, and by President Mohamoud, who expressed appreciation for the visit and for American support for his government, which is struggling to stabilize the country. The United States recognized his government in January, 22 years after clan-based militias toppled the dictatorship of Mohammed Siad Barre and then turned on one another, leaving the country in chaos.

When Representative Donald M. Payne, Democrat of New Jersey, visited Mogadishu in April 2009, he narrowly escaped injury from a mortar attack. But security in the capital has improved since then.

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