Home > Uncategorized > U.S Marine House to cost only $5 Million, says US embassy

U.S Marine House to cost only $5 Million, says US embassy

The United States embassy said on Thursday the Marine House to be constructed on its premises would be a $5 million bomb-proof facility to accommodate less than 20 guards and the $112.5 million figure quoted from the US budget documents was a ‘misinterpretation’.

‘About $5 million would be spent on the construction of the Marine House. It would be bomb proof. The amount being spent is high, but not widely excessive and the maximum number of Marines assigned here would be less than 20,’ said US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson at a media briefing that was beginning of what was described as ‘deeper engagement with media’ to counter the bad press America was getting in Pakistan.

The ambassador tried to lay to rest a controversy about the number of Marines being based in Islamabad. The controversy was sparked by reports about an allocation of $112.5 million by the State Department for residential quarters for the Marines.

Ms Patterson said that from the $112.5 million allocation, $5 million was for Marine quarters, $53.5 for housing infrastructure, $18 million for improvement of general services office area, and $36 million for temporary duty quarters and community support facilities.

The duties of Marines, she said, would be to guard the embassy building and classified material inside and there weren’t any sinister designs about which fears were being expressed by certain quarters.

The ambassador was visibly shocked when someone asked if the embassy expansion was for espionage. She said: ‘I’m speechless. To spy on Pakistan we don’t need a big US embassy. And we don’t need to spy either’.

About projected increase in the embassy staff strength, she said there were at present 250 regular diplomatic staff, 200 visiting American staff on short-term duties and 1,000 local personnel, while there were plans to add another about 500 personnel over the next three years, half of them would be Pakistanis.

The embassy expansion, she said, was a reflection of the long-term commitment that the US intended to have with Pakistan. Moreover, she said, quadrupling of the social, economic and military assistance that would touch $4 billion a year over the next 18 months, necessitated staff increase.

Ms Patterson said the US embassy needed to improve its public outreach and dispel misgivings. She said she was working on plans to bring back families of diplomatic staff based in Pakistan to increase people-to-people contact.

Pakistan has been a ‘non-family’ station for US diplomats since 2002. The return of the families, she stressed, would be a ‘huge element of the outreach’.

‘The security has lately dramatically improved and I think we can build a case for the return of the families,’ she said, adding that she wanted to bring them back as quickly as possible.

The ambassador said she intended to speak and write to the Pakistani politicians on the embassy expansion plans.

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