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US embassy completed at Ta' Qali - no word on new ambassador

File photo of the new US embassy.

File photo of the new US embassy.

The US embassy moves from Floriana to a sprawling new building at Ta' Qali on Friday, opening a new chapter in the history of diplomatic relations between the US and Malta.

A formal flag lowering ceremony at the current embassy in Floriana will take place on Friday afternoon and the new embassy will be dedicated during celebrations which will coincide with the American Independence Day.

The new embassy was built on 10 acres of land acquired from the Maltese government in 2006 for €14.6m. 

Links between Malta and the US go back centuries. The first consular presence of the US in Malta was established in 1796 - when Malta was ruled by the Knights. At the time the knights were considering buying property in the US. The American authorities had no objection, although they cautioned that such property would not enjoy sovereign status.

(During the American War of Independence when 1,800 Maltese and Knights of the Order enlisted in the French Navy to assist the Americans. In 1783, in a gesture of gratitude from a new and independent United States, Benjamin Franklin, in his capacity as US Ambassador to France, presented America's first medal "Libertas Americana" to Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan.)

Shortly after Malta's Independence in 1964, full diplomatic relations were established and the US opened its first embassy in Valletta.

After some years, the embassy moved to Sliema and in 1974 to Floriana, where it is to date.

Press officer Elijah Waterman said US-Maltese relations were being continuously strengthened, pointing to the recent ratification of the new double taxation treaty, the inclusion of Malta in the  US visa waiver programme and the relocation of some 700 refugees from Malta to the US.

He explained that the new embassy at Ta' Qali will allow the US to consolidate several embassy facilities, including its warehouse and housing for the marine guard.

The new chancery building  includes the latest features for sustainable development and water and energy conservation, making it an internationally certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) "green" building.

The building includes a new Information Resource Center which offers a reference library containing current US publications, internet terminals, a conference room to host digital video conferences with US speakers, and a cultural corner.

Following the resignation of Ambassador Douglas Kmiec in April, the embassy is currently under the direction of Chargé d'Affaires Richard M. Mills, Jr.

A new Ambassador has not yet been nominated.

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