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By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and five other congressional Democrats last week sent a letter to both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry urging the administration “to continue efforts to find a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestine.” Earlier this month, while speaking to a group of visiting young African leaders at the University Of Minnesota Humphrey School Of Public Affairs, Ellison said, “I think that the bes

U.S. congressman. Keith Ellison

U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison

t thing to do is for the United States to put more pressure on both sides to resolve the conflict.”

He made it clear to the 25 visitors in town for a six-week leadership program that his views were his own and not those of the U.S. or Congress. The congressman added that he believes that the United Nations has become outdated and badly need restructuring. “It’s a voluntary organization made up of countries. It’s a model that’s old and needs a lot of work. The world has changed a lot…

“I believe that if you have a leader of a country committing atrocities on civilians, the world can’t stand by and let it happen. There should be some kind of international consensus (on dealing with this]. As a world [we need to] say that we are not going to stand by and let somebody [kill their citizens].”

Ellison noted that what goes on in such African countries as Somalia affects Minnesota with its growing immigrant population. “It is not really a foreign policy issue for me,” he said.

Finally, he suggested that African nations should lobby Congress as other countries do — by every African country establishing “a society” here in the States. “You should have a Nigerian-American friendship society, a Togo-American friendship society… There’s nothing wrong with that. If you push on your side [of the ocean] and I push on my side, maybe we can get somewhere.”

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected].

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