A U.S congressman visited the capital of war torn Somalia Tuesday, new sources report.
Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, is the first member of Congress to visit Mogadishu in years, according to an Associated Press article appearing in the Star Tribune. Until recently, it had been considered one of the world's most dangerous cities.
Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, said his visit to Somalia was fulfilling a request from his constituents, the Star Tribune reports. Minnesota is home to one of the largest populations of Somali-Americans ,and many of them maintain ties with Somalia.
Before arriving in Mogadishu, Ellison was slated to meet with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss Somali refugees in the U.S, according to MPRnews.
One of the issues he spoke with Somali officials about were the financial remittances Somalis in the U.S. send back to the family members in their home country, the Star Tribune reports. While the flow of money has been slowed due to governmental fears that the money might fall into the hands of extremists, Ellison claimed to have made "real progress" on the issue.
The congressman also highlighted the Somali's progress towards establishing a stable democracy, along with their eagerness to address economic problems, piracy, and Islamic militants, the Star Tribune reports.
The Somali president said that Ellison's visit was an important event for the fledgling country. The U.S. recognized the Somali government for the first time since 1991 in mid-January, according to the Star Tribune.
After years of near anarchy, the Somali capital has experienced 18 months of relative peace after Islamic extremists were forced from the city by African Union troops in August 2011, the Star Tribune reports.
Ellison is one of two Minnesotan members of the U.S. House using the current congressional recess to travel to Africa, MPRnews reports. Rep. Betty McCollum is traveling to South Sudan and Tanzania with administration officials, business leaders, and aid experts sponsored by CARE, a nonprofit relief organization.