Groundbreaking Set for New US Embassy

Foreign Minister Hor Nam­hong is scheduled to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a new US Embassy complex on Wednesday, an embassy statement said.

The new embassy is to be built on 2.6 hectares at the old Inter­national Youth Club near Wat Phnom and will take more than three years and $50 million to construct, the statement said.

The construction contract was awarded last month to the Zachry Construction Company from San Antonio, in the US state of Texas, the statement said. The company previously helped construct the US Embassy in Moscow.

Plans for the new compound are still in the works, according to the statement. Hor Namhong will join Em­bassy Charge d’Affaires Alex Arvizu and US State Depart­ment overseas building operations official Charles Williams at the dedication ceremony.

The US government bought the site from the city for $6 million in November 2000. Then-ambassador Kent Wiedemann said at the time that the new embassy would be built with both aesthetics and security in mind.

“We want it to fit in with the cultural and historical environment,” Wiedemann said.

The current embassy compound, composed of a number of buildings near Street 51, has re­cently undergone a number of security enhancements, including additional fencing and guard posts and heavily sandbagged en­trances.

The embassy was closed for several weeks in September following a region-wide alert of a pending terrorist attack against US embassies in Southeast Asia.

An alleged al-Qaida leader confessed last month to US authorities that Cambodia was one of eight countries in the region where large-scale attacks could take place against US interests on or around the one-year anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US. The embassy also was closed for a time in the days after the attacks.

It also closed some of its offices twice in December 1999 due to what officials said were “credible” reports of a possible terrorist threat.


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