WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States has started to build a giant new embassy in Turkmenistan in the latest bid to expand influence in Central Asia, the US Department of State has announced in a press release.
"US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Allan Mustard and local officials broke ground on the new US Embassy in Ashgabat," the release issued on Monday stated.
The multi-building campus will be situated on a 17.3-acre site and will include an office building, a US Marine Security Guard residence, a support annex, staff housing, and facilities for the Embassy community, the release added.
The Department of State described the purpose for the new embassy complex as "an important symbol of enduring friendship with Turkmenistan."
The $266 million project will incorporate numerous sustainable features, including energy efficient lighting, water-conserving plumbing fixtures and drought-tolerant plantings, the release said.
A State Department Fact Sheet produced earlier this year describes Turkmenistan as "a closed society with an authoritarian political system and centralized economy."
Turkmenistan had estimated proven natural gas reserves of 265 trillion cubic feet as of January 2015, and is the sixth largest natural gas reserve holder in the world according to the Oil and Gas Journal.