US to Build World's Largest Consulate Facility in Iraqi Kurdistan - Reports
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman and Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani led the groundbreaking ceremony for the world's largest US consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, local media reported Monday.
As of now, the United States rents buildings from local residents and business owners in Erbil's district of Ainkawa to house its consulate, which opened in February 2007 and was upgraded to a consulate general in 2011, the Rudaw news agency reported.
"The new consulate building demonstrates that the United States will stand with the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, as they build a future that will be brighter than the past," Silliman said at the ceremony, as quoted by the media outlet.
The ambassador also called for strengthening US-Kurdish business relations.
Barzani, in turn, thanked Silliman and congratulated him on the decision to start construction.
"We see it as a significant and valuable step, and hope that it will be finished successfully at its schedule time," he said.
Barzani also stressed that the development of relations between the United States and the Kurdistan Region lay "in the framework of the diplomatic relations it has with Iraqi federal government."
The estimated cost of the new US consulate building is $600 million. It will be built on 200,000 square meters (2,152,782 square feet) of land on Erbil-Shaqlawa highway.
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