Keith Ellison denied entry to Gaza

"Denied entry to Gaza - hostilities. On to Rafah. Tweet cha when I get there," writes Rep. Keith Ellison Friday morning on his Twitter account.

The Minneapolis congressman had been accompanying a trade delegation of 16 U.S. corporations to Saudi Arabia, helping to open doors for bilateral commerce and diplomatic ties, according to an official in Ellison's office. He's been tweeting regularly about his experiences. He made a similar trip last year.

"We have a long-term relationship. However, no relationship can stay strong unless it is nurtured and so the point of our trade mission is to nurture and strengthen that relationship," Ellison told the English language Arab News."My view is that since 9/11 some Americans haven't really understood the strength of the relationship, so what we are trying to do is to reacquaint a whole new generation of American businesspeople with our long and time-tested mutually beneficial relationship."

The congressman's precise itinerary is being kept under wraps for security reasons. But two of his most important stops in Saudi Arabia were the capital, Riyadh, and Dammam, in the center of the country's oil producing region.

From Saudi Arabia, he moved on to Amman, Jordan, then traveled by car into Jerusalem for meetings with the U.S. ambassador, State Department staffers and USAID. In Tel Aviv he talked about peace and U.S. politics with some young Israeli political leaders before visiting the site of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin's assassination.

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