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Friday, April 18, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Opening soon in Baghdad: Largest U.S. embassy in the world with restaurants, 619 apartments

WASHINGTON — A Kuwait contractor has concluded the construction of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

On April 14, the State Department issued a certificate of acceptance for the 104-acre, 27 building compound, Middle East Newsline reported.

The $474 million facility is the largest U.S. embassy in the world, with 619 apartments for staffers as well as restaurants, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, volleyball court, and indoor Olympic-size swimming pool.

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After years of delay, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting completed the design and construction of the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The project, plagued by faulty construction and scandal, was certified by the State Department and independent consultants.

"This is a remarkable accomplishment for our company and for the thousands of individuals whose hard work has made it possible," First Kuwaiti managing director Wadih Al Absi said. "We are proud of our record of achievement in Iraq and regard the completion of the new U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad as an absolute success."

The company, which hired 23 U.S. subcontractors, said the project was completed nearly two years beyond schedule. The project was said to have stayed within its original budget of $474 million.

Executives said prior to construction, First Kuwaiti cleared the embassy site of buildings, hidden tunnels and bunkers, landmines and unexploded ordnance. They said supplies of 75,000 tons of cement and 28,000 tons of steel were hampered by military closure of the road to the embassy site. The embassy construction site itself is at times the target of direct rocket and mortar attacks.

"First Kuwaiti completed this project under conditions that none of us anticipated," Al Absi said.

Kuwait, which hosts about 15,000 U.S. troops, has been given the bulk of U.S. military in Iraq contracts to foreign firms. Executives said the sheikdom facilitated the U.S. embassy contract by serving as a conduit for workers and material.

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