Thursday, December 20, 2007

Welcome to the new US embassy

It’s bigger than Saddam’s palace and, with a cinema, gym and pool, is the safest and smartest place to live in Iraq...

Baghdad is a city of ruins - of burnt-out homes, of shops wrecked by suicide bombs, of the crumbling shells of Saddam-era palaces and ministries destroyed by smart bombs in the US invasion of 2003.

There is one notable exception. It is probably the only big new building project in the capital in the past four years. It is the new US Embassy on the west bank of the Tigris which the contractors will transfer to the US Government officially today.

A towering wall renders the huge new embassy almost invisible from ground level. For security reasons the State Department has refused all requests for media tours – promising instead to release pictures of the interior at some later date. The only way to view it is from the roof of the Babylon hotel, across the river.

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