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A tale of two cities

22 Feb 2008 | Cpl. Billy Hall

Two cities, at opposite ends of the globe, recently solidified a partnership intended to create a union of goodwill and understanding.

 Mayor Farhan Tekan Farhan, the regional mayor of Al Qa’im, Iraq, placed his signature next to Mayor Gary Capata’s, mayor of Laguna Niguel, Calif., on an official document uniting the two communities as “Sister Cities.”

 Capata signed the document at a Laguna Niguel city council meeting Oct. 16, and when the Al Qa’im city council voted on the partnership, Farhan’s signature made it official.

 Lieutenant Col. Jason Bohm, the battalion commander of 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, initiated the program last year and Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, which is currently deployed and operating within Al Qa’im, facilitated the official signing for the Sister City Program.

 Sister Cities International, created in 1956, strives to promote cultural understanding and fosters a friendship between U.S. cities and foreign cities through direct association. The partnership aims to spawn mutually beneficial programs in the areas of government and business information exchange, health, education, sports and cultural arts.

 The programs offer a great opportunity for citizens from both countries to connect and learn from one another.

 Before the signing, Farhan read a letter from Capata to the city councilmen.

 “Our community looks forward to the establishment of a long and lasting friendship through which we can increase awareness, understanding and appreciation of our cultures and people and promote international goodwill,” wrote Capata. “While this relationship must begin on an official basis between our city governments, the strength and vitality of our long-term association will rely on the efforts of our citizen volunteers and community participants.”

 As the hands of the Al Qa’im city councilmen were raised in a vote of approval, Farhan encouraged his fellow Iraqis to embrace this as an opportunity to create a valuable friendship.

 This is a great occasion for Al Qa’im, said Farhan. God willing, this relationship will prove to be a promising one.

 This partnership marks the 10th “Sister City” relationship to be formed between U.S and Iraqi cities. The goodwill and support from U.S. citizens is an invaluable sign to the people of Iraq that they are not alone in this time of rebuilding.