US plan for 3,000 diplomatic personnel in Iraq


The United States is reportedly planning to create a massive 3,000-strong diplomatic mission in Baghdad after it withdraws militarily from Iraq.

The Washington Post reports today that when the transition takes place responsibility for Iraq will move from the Pentagon to the State Department.

 "The real challenge for the new embassy, so to speak, or the new presence will be helping the Iraqi people get ready for their full elections and full constitution the following year," Secretary of State Colin Powell told the paper in an interview.

One of the first steps would be resuming diplomatic relations between Washington and Baghdad. Although the United States is the occupying power in Iraq, the two nations have not formally resumed relations, which were severed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The US Embassy in Egypt has a larger presence, more than 7,000 personnel. But the number includes many non-diplomats from other US agencies, including, for example, two members of the US Library of Congress who collect foreign books.

The Baghdad Embassy will have the largest US diplomatic staff anywhere in the world, State Department officials were quoted saying.

The United States is tentatively planning to build a new embassy, it added, with construction expected to take three to five years.