By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 6, 2009 - U.S. Marines raised the American flag yesterday during the dedication ceremony for the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker declared "a new era" for Iraq and the Iraqi-U.S. relationship. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte and almost 1,000 invited guests looked on as the embassy's Marine security detachment raised the red, white and blue over the largest U.S. Embassy in the world, with the Army's 4th Infantry Division Band playing the U.S. national anthem.
The compound, set on 104 acres along the banks of the Tigris River in central Baghdad, includes 27 modern office, housing and support buildings in tones that blend with the desert landscape. Officials said the scale of the new complex reflects the importance of the U.S.-Iraqi bilateral relationship.
More than 1,200 U.S. diplomats, servicemembers and government officials and staff from 14 federal agencies will work and live on the compound, embassy officials said. Their tasks and missions run the gamut: supporting local elections, helping to fight corruption, helping develop Iraq's energy and transportation sectors, strengthening the rule of law, providing security training and promoting educational and cultural exchange. In addition, 240 servicemembers assigned to Multinational Force Iraq are based at the embassy.
Construction of the compound began in 2005 and was completed in 2008 at a cost of $592 million, officials said.
Talabani called the new building a sign of how far the U.S.-Iraqi relationship has come.
"This building is not only a compound for the embassy, but a symbol of the deep friendship between the two peoples of Iraq and America," he said.