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Portland spans the globe with sister cities

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council will hear a presentation from the Portland-Bologna Sister City Association urging that Portland establish a sister-city relationship with Bologna, Italy. The presentation will take place at 9:30 a.m. in Council Chambers at Portland City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave.

The sister-city program was inaugurated in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower, with the goal of establishing greater understanding between residents of the United States and people of foreign nations. Portland was among the first cities to take part in the program, establishing what has been a long-standing sister-city relationship with Sapporo, Japan.

Since then, the city has forged sister-city agreements with eight other cities on three continents. In 2001, the City Council formalized several criteria for participating in the sister-cities program.

Among them:

• Preference shall be given to a city requesting a sister-city relationship with Portland if that city has no other sister city in the United States.

• Portland shall establish a sister-city relationship with only one city per country.

• Preference shall be given to cities in those nations that maintain a consulate or trade mission office in Portland.

• Portland and the proposed sister city shall be of similar size and role, either absolutely or in relation to their regions.

• The city of Portland shall have cultural, educational, economic, governmental and social interests in common.

• A committee formed as a nonprofit entity under Oregon laws must be prepared to undertake the financial and staffing requirements necessary to properly administer such a relationship.

• Approval of any new sister city shall be on a one-year trial basis, with formal approval to follow a recommendation from the director of the Office of International Relations. During the first year of the relationship, the city shall be designated a 'friendship city,' and if approved after a one-year trial basis, will be formally adopted as a sister city by the City Council.