The NewsAhead Agency for future world news | Tuesday, 22 March 2005 30 Mar 2005**. YEREVAN. 30 Mar 2005** (Estimated date) The new United States embassy plans to open the largest US diplomatic in the world in Armenia, a demonstration of Washington's growing strategic interest in the largely Christian country and in the Caucusus in general. The Caucasus Region is important to world energy markets as a transit area for oil and natural gas exports from the Caspian Sea to Europe. US officials explain that the reason for building such as large embassy is the number of US projects in Armenia, but most see the ambitious building as matching Washington's big goals in the region. These include securing oil supplies from the Caspian and augmenting the US military toehold on the Western shore to project US influence across the entire region. The United States has provided more some US $1.5 billion in economic assistance to Armenia since independence. Yerevan dispatched 46 Armenian non-combat servicemen to the US led coalition in Iraq on Jan 18. The symbolic presence, despite overwhelming domestic opposition, has been interpreted as Armenia's thanks for US largesse. Others explain the troop deployment as a geopolitical necessity - a means of keeping US neutral in Armenia's long-running dispute with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a former part of Soviet Azerbaijan that is now controlled by ethnic Armenians. The new US embassy compound, built of native stone, overlooks scenic Lake Yerevan and has a sweeping view of Mount Ararat, neighboring Turkey's tallest peak and the rumored resting place of Noah's Ark. Sophisticated security measures have been installed to protect the complex from potential physical, biological and technological assaults. The embassy will also have its own energy and water supply.