Duluth advancing on international stage with new sister city in Iraq

By KBJR News 1

April 20, 2014 Updated Apr 20, 2014 at 11:14 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Rania, Iraq joins cities in Russia, Japan, Canada, and Sweden on Duluth Sister City International's roster.

"I wanted people here, people in my city to feel like they would be their friends and to accept them as their friends," said Michele Naar-Obed of the Duluth Sister Cities program, "so in that official capacity the city said yes, we recognize this friendship."

City councilors unanimously voted to support the relationship with Rania at their last meeting. The relationship between Duluth and Rania is a grass roots effort to promote peace and understanding.

"Peace making is not only done in the United Nations or the Security Council or at high level meetings," said Tom Morgan, Chair of the Duluth Sister Cities, "I really do believe it's done on the ground."

Sister City delegates Tom Morgan and Brooks Anderson traveled to Rania. They say the people there are excited about the relationship.

"Having been there, and having been there now with two delegations it is huge for them," said Anderson. "This means they are engaging in the world community, in a way they have always been excluded.

The partnership inspired people in Rania to form their own organization to strengthen ties with other cities in the middle east and the world.

"Its kind of a ripple affect in many ways," said Naar-Obed, "and it gives us here in Duluth this wonderful opportunity to become connected with more cities in the middle east.

...Duluth's Sister Cities Program, and its "people to people diplomacy," working to spread cultural understanding around the world.

A delegation from Rania is scheduled to visit Duluth sometime this summer.

Kati Anderson