Iraq seeks help in pillaged antiques
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Iraq urged France to help Baghdad in reclaiming archaeological treasures.Iraq’s Tourism Minister Liwaa Smaisim urged France to help Baghdad in reclaiming archaeological treasures pillaged after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
“The return of cultural assets is a priority for the Iraqi government,” he said, during a visit to the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural organisation headquarters in Paris. “France can play a major role in this field,” he added, complaining that Paris had dragged its feet on returning four cuneiform stone tablets seized at Charles de Gaulle airport. The 12,000 listed archaeological sites in Iraq and many of the country’s museums were systematically pillaged by criminal networks in the chaos following Saddam Hussein’s ouster.
Smaisim said several countries “were not cooperating”, notably “Israel, some European Union countries and the United States.” He did not specify how many objects had been stolen but said “approximately 117,000 pieces have been returned including 4,200 of the 15,000” stolen from Baghdad’s main museum in April 2003. Iraq is where the ancient Mesopotamia -- one of the world’s oldest civilisations -- flourished.