U.S. opens new embassy in Iraq's Baghdad
US opened its new embassy building in Baghdad, a step symbolising its transition from occupying power to an ally of a sovereign Iraqi government.
The United States opened its new embassy building in Baghdad on Monday.
In recent weeks U.S. diplomats have gradually moved into the $592 million newly-built compound, the world's largest U.S. embassy building.
The opening of the new embassy is in line with a change of power that was effected on New Year's Day, when U.S. forces in Iraq officially came under an Iraqi mandate.
"This new embassy is significant in that it reflects a more normal situation," U.S. embassy spokeswoman Susan Ziadeh said.
The embassy has 1,200 employees, including diplomats, servicemen and staff from 14 federal agencies, Ziadeh said, adding that "its scale reflects the importance of the U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship".
U.S. forces on New Year's Day handed over responsibility to Iraqi troops for the Green Zone, a fortified compound in the heart of Baghdad off limits to most Iraqis, who have widely viewed it as a symbol of foreign military occupation. The new embassy is located in the zone.
Ziadeh said the mission of the new embassy would start to resemble those in other embassies around the world.
"Our work is looking at a whole range of issues on trade, on energy ... transportation sectors, rule of law," she said.
Reuters Last Mod: 05 Ocak 2009, 14:28