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Report: State halts work on planned consulate in Afghanistan

May. 8, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
In 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry said the consulate would allow the U.S. to extend its diplomatic reach.
In 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry said the consulate would allow the U.S. to extend its diplomatic reach. (Adek Berry / AFP via Getty Images)

The State Department is abandoning an unfinished consulate in Afghanistan because of security issues after spending $80 million on the project, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The lack of security features, such as having enough distance from the street and being located near taller buildings, made it vulnerable to attack, according to the Post.

The consulate was to be located in Mazar-e Sharif one of four consulates the State Department plans for Afghanistan.

State Department spokeswoman Christine Foushee said the agency does not comment on leaked documents and that any situation in a conflict zone is extremely fluid.

"Therefore, we are rigorous about constantly evaluating risk to ensure that we safeguard our personnel and U.S. Government resources," Foushee said.

She said the United States is "committed" to a diplomatic presence in Mazar-e Sharif and that the State Department is evaluating its options about how and when it will establish a consulate.

A State Department review of the security for the consulate showed that it was vulnerable to car bombs, according to The Washington Post.

Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said in 2009 that the consulate formerly the Mazar Hotel would allow the United States to extend its diplomatic reach throughout the northern part of the country.

He said at a signing ceremony in 2009 that the State Department was "prepared to invest many millions of dollars in renovating that property, which will contribute significantly to both local employment and to the local economy."

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