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Cambodia hails U.S. museum to return ancient Khmer artifacts

NY Museum returned artifacts to cambodia

NY Museum returned artifacts to Kambujia

PHNOM PENH, May 10 (Xinhua) — Cambodian deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister Sok An admired the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York for its recent decision to repatriate two 10th century stone statues to Cambodia, according to a statement from the government on Friday.

“We’d like to take this solemn occasion to express our sincere thanks and profound gratitude to the Met in New York, which has taken such a laudable decision to return these priceless ancient Khmer artifacts, which represents part of the soul of the nation,” he said in the statement issued by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers. “We also thank the U.S. government for its support in this endeavor.”

Following talks between both sides, the Met decided to return the two statues, which are known as “Kneeling Attendants” and were illicitly removed from Prasat Chen in Koh Ker temple at the time of Cambodia’s civil war in the 1970s, the statement said.

In its press release on May 3, the Met quoted its director Thomas P. Campbell as saying, “The museum is committed to applying rigorous provenance standards not only to new acquisitions, but to the study of works long in its collections in an ongoing effort to learn as much as possible about ownership history.”

“This is a case in which additional information… has led the museum to consider facts that were not known at the time of the acquisition and to take the action…” Thomas said. “In returning the statues, the museum is acting to strengthen the good relationship it has long maintained with scholarly institutions and colleagues in Cambodia and to foster and celebrate continued cooperation and dialogue between us.”

Meanwhile, Sok An, on behalf of the government of Cambodia, appealed to other museums and art collectors around the world to follow this example of returning plundered treasures to their rightful owners as part of the worldwide campaign for the protection of cultural heritage.

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