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Ellison visits Mogadishu in rare visit to Somalia by U.S. politician

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In a rare appearance in Somalia by a U.S. politician, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has arrived in Mogadishu, the Associated Press reports. Ellison said Tuesday that he is fulfilling a request from his constituents with ties to Somalia that he visit the country.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud greeted Ellison, the AP reports, and Mohamud declared that Ellison’s visit marked a important day for Somalia.

Minnesota has one of the largest populations of Somali-Americans in the U.S., the AP notes.

Last month, for the first time in more than two decades, the United States officially recognized the Somali government during a Mohamud visit to Washington. Ellison welcomed Mohamud to the U.S. Capitol during a bipartisan meeting.

Security in Mogadishu has been improving in recent months, following the August 2011 ouster of the Islamic extremists of al-Shabab from the city. But violence still erupts in the capital. A bomb leveled a popular seafood restaurant on Saturday near Lido Beach, which has become a symbol of Mogadishu’s recent renaissance, the New York Times reported.

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