Looking toward the future, the US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey addressed the assembly and said, “To all the people of Iraq, the United States pledges its continued support for a unified, democratic, pluralistic, and federal Iraq, and we honour your grave losses among your civilian population and security forces in our common struggle against terror.”
Mr Nides also thanked the KRG for donating the land for a permanent consulate general, affirming, “Through this generous action the KRG has again proven itself to be an outstanding partner.” He concluded, “On behalf of President Obama and Secretary Clinton, you can count on our friendship.”
Following the speeches President Barzani and Deputy Secretary Nides unveiled the seal, officially opening the new consulate general.
Commenting on the proceedings, the Head of the KRG’s Head of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, said, “This is an important day. It is a significant step forward in cementing the existing relations between the Kurdistan Region and the United States of America, and it prepares the way for a strategic partnership. We look forward to fully coordinating and cooperating with the US Consulate General on political, economic, cultural, and business matters, and we embrace this significant opportunity to further develop a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship with the United States.”
In addition to the opening of the new Consulate, officials also announced that a five star 200 room Erbil Marriott, 75 deluxe Marriott Executive Apartments and several restaurants would be opening as part of the Empire Iraq development project in Erbil. The hotel, apartments and restaurants will be among the first major US brands to open establishments in Iraq. The buildings are currently under construction and are scheduled to open in 2014.
Also attending the event were: Iraq’s First Lady Hero Talabani, the Head of the Legal Department at the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Ambassador Arshad Tawfiq, the Head of the MOFA’s Consular Department Ambassador Ismat Ageed, US Lieutenant General Frank Helmick, US Brigadier General James Pasquarette, KRG Ministers, KRG Members of Parliament, political party leaders, members of the Erbil diplomatic and consular corps, religious and civil society leaders, and many others.