Douglas Silliman, the United States ambassador to Iraq, has announced that the U.S. will be constructing a new consulate structure in Erbil, Kurdistan. The announcement was made alongside Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani who expressed his vehement support of the expansion. The United States presently has an existing consulate compound within the city of Erbil but is seeking to expand as it furthers its relationship with the Kurdish regional Government.

In a public statement, Ambassador Silliman said, “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.” He added that, “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. 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 concluded with, “I’m very happy that we’ll have beautiful new compound in the shadow of the mountains here on the north side of Erbil.”

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani added that the new consulate was going to be a symbol of more than just a relationship between the United States and Kurdistan. Barzani said, “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.” He continued with, “We want to have strong relations with America regarding politics, economy, business, science, culture and all other fields, based on mutual interests.” He also pointed out that the new consulate building would serve to progress the relationship between Kurdistan and the U.S., “in the framework of the diplomatic relations it has with Iraqi federal government.” Barzani concluded by expressing his hope that other nations would setup diplomatic outposts in Kurdistan in the future.

The United States’s new consulate will be built at a cost of nearly $600 million while covering 200,000 square meters. Currently the U.S. rents buildings located in the Anakara district of Erbil from local business owners which it uses as a temporary consulate. The current consulate was upgraded from a diplomatic office in 2011 but was the target of an Islamic State suicide bomb attack in 2015. The new building will be constructed by EYP out of Albany, New York.