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Embassy in Iraq to be U.S.’s Largest

As Ambassador John Negroponte took over from Paul Bremer on Monday as the top U.S. official in Iraq, it is unclear to what degree the U.S. has relinquished power in the war-torn country.

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq will be the largest diplomatic mission anywhere in the world, with reports of more than 1,700 employees and hefty sums being spent on flak jackets, armored cars and helmets for them.

The building that once housed the temporary coalition government will now be home to the embassy. The Republican Palace, a symbol of Saddam Hussein’s excessive wealth, will be annexed to it.

While U.S. officials maintained in media reports that their job was no longer about governance, there have been doubts due to the magnitude of the embassy as well as the U.S.’s history of hegemony in Iraq and other countries.

Questions have also been raised as to the relationship of the new U.S.-appointed interim Iraqi government and the U.S. mission.