WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department is turning to Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, to help burnish the country's image in the Muslim world -- despite Ellison's outspoken criticism of the Bush administration's foreign policy.
"I plan to talk to people in the State Department and anywhere I can to help try to improve America's image in the Muslim world, make friends for our country," Ellison, a freshman Minnesota Democrat, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I want to help win friends for our country and to isolate true enemies."
In articles which included translations into Arabic and other languages, Ellison has been profiled by the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs, which is distributed in foreign countries. He has meetings scheduled at the end of the month with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and with Karen Hughes, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy; Ellison spoke with Hughes by phone a few weeks ago.
The State Department did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Ellison, who has called for an immediate withdrawal of military forces from Iraq, said he didn't find it difficult to reconcile his criticism of the administration's foreign policy with his promotion of American values.