US to expand embassy in Afghanistan

The United States is expanding its presence in Afghanistan, announcing on Wednesday a massive expansion of its Kabul embassy and construction of two consulates.

Last Updated: Nov 03, 2010, 20:17 PM IST

Kabul: The United States is expanding its
presence in Afghanistan, announcing on Wednesday a massive expansion
of its Kabul embassy and construction of two consulates.

Washington`s Kabul embassy is already its biggest in the
world, with about 1,100 employees, projected to rise to 1,200
by the end of the year, officials said.

Hundreds have arrived over the course of this year as
part of a "civilian surge" bringing development experts into
the country to compliment the military effort already in its
10th year.

The United States and NATO have 150,000 troops in
Afghanistan fighting the Taliban-led insurgency, following a
military surge aimed at speeding an end to the war.

The embassy expansion contract was worth USD 511 million
and had been awarded under US law to an American
company, ambassador Karl Eikenberry said.

Another two contracts, each worth USD 20 million, had
been awarded for the construction of consulates in Herat, the
main city in western Afghanistan, and Mazar-I-Sharif in the
north, he said.

Speaking to a gathering of Afghan officials, Eikenberry
said the expansion would enable the United States "to carry
out its pledge to maintain into the future its very
significant security, government, economic and civil society
programmes".

He said the projects currently employed 500 Afghans and
that "once construction gets underway more than 1,500 Afghan
workers will be employed through the completion of the project
in summer 2014".

Bureau Report