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City council approves Najaf, Iraq as Minneapolis' sister city

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The Minneapolis City Council approved a proposal today to become "sister cities" with the Shiite holy city of Najaf. 

Local peace and justice activists say that the arrangement will allow residents of both cities to build individual relationships outside of the military conflict. 

"We need to work at healing some of the tensions that have arisen between the peoples of both countries," said supporter and peace activist Steve Clemens. "One of the ways to do that is to just get to know each other as people."

The Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project based the proposal on several projects the local non-profit had already initiated, including letter exchanges between children and the donation of water filtration systems to Najaf schools and hospitals.

The sister-city connection will formalize these programs, and could lead to business opportunities and other projects. A 14-person delegation from Najaf plans to visit Minneapolis in the fall to tour the city and meet with community members. 

Minneapolis is the 10th U.S. city to establish sister-city relations with an Iraqi city.