US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman delivers remarks at the site of the new US Consulate General in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, on April 23, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman was in Erbil to announce the start of construction on the largest US consulate complex in the world on Monday in Erbil with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani giving the KRG's blessing for the project.
"The ties between the people of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the United States of America have endured for decades. 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," said Silliman.
The ambassador urged closer ties between the US and Kurdish business sectors.
"The United States wants to work with the KRG, but more importantly with Kurdish businessmen and businesswomen to help attract new projects to come here to Kurdistan," said Silliman. "I believe the Iraqi Kurdistan Region will be an important point of entry for foreign investment because this region has a very positive history of doing business."
He touched on how the United States has supported the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in responsible governorance, cultural, professional and educational exchange, as well as in English language instruction.
"I'm very happy that we'll have beautiful new compound in the shadow of the mountains here on the northside of Erbil," concluded Silliman.
Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Region, speaks in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, on April 23, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV
Barzani echoed that the consulate building represents much more than bilateral relations between Washington and Erbil.
“I thank and congratulate them for this decision. We see it as a significant and valuable step, and hope that it will be finished successfully at its schedule time. Construction of the American Consulate General complex in Erbil … is a sign of trust by America in currently and bright future for Kurdistan," said Barzani.
He said it is indicative of the development of relations between the United States and the Kurdistan Region "in the framework of the diplomatic relations it has with Iraqi federal government."
He added that Kurdistan wants strong relations with the United States in all fields.
“We want to have strong relations with America regarding politics, economy, business, science, culture and all other fields, based on mutual interests,” said the Kurdish premier.
Barzani stressed that the US relations with Kurdistan Region is not something new, but it dates back to 1991 when the US had a role in establishing no-fly-zone for the region. He also reminded their relations with the US in 2003 when Baath regime was ended.
He called on other countries to take a similar step and establish their complexes and buildings in Kurdistan Region.
The new US consulate building will cost $600 million, and will be built on 200,000 square meters on Erbil-Shaqlawa Road.
The United States currently rents homes and buildings from local residents and business owners in Ainkawa to house its consulate complex, which opened as a diplomatic office in February 2007 and was upgraded to a consulate general in 2011.
EYP of Albany, New York, will be the project’s architects, which is the largest US consulate complex in the world.
Relevant: See renderings of the new consulate on Shaqlawa road