Egypt breaks ties with France`s Louvre Museum
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Last Updated: Wednesday, October 07, 2009, 18:47
Cairo: Egypt today announced that it has cut all cooperation with France's Louvre Museum until it secures the return of "stolen" Pharaonic antiquities in the latest row involving the exhibits of a major European institution.

"We made the decision to end any cooperation with the Louvre until they return" the works, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass told.

He charged that the renowned Paris museum had bought the antiquities in 1980 even though its curators knew they were stolen.

"The purchase of stolen steles is a sign that some museums are prepared to encourage the destruction and theft of Egyptian antiquities," Hawass said.

The decision to suspend cooperation will affect conferences organised with the museum, as well as work carried out by the Louvre on the Pharaonic necropolis of Saqqara, south of the capital Cairo.

French sources said that the antiquities Egypt was demanding were decorative fragments from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, which had been acquired in a "transparent" manner by the Louvre.

"Everyone is working to try and make it possible to return the pieces to Cairo once a legal framework has been found," one French source said.

Hawass said the decision to cut ties had been taken two months ago, implying that it had nothing to do with Egyptian unhappiness over the defeat of Culture Minister Faruq Hosni in the race to become the new director of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) last month.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, October 07, 2009, 18:47

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