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Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007 at 4:54 AM
The government has asked British authorities to hand over to the Iraq Museum 654 priceless archaeological pieces that went missing shortly after U.S. invasion troops landed in Baghdad in 2003.
Azzaman, November 8, 2007
A statement by the Ministry of Archaeology and Tourism said the pieces were among the thousands of artifacts that were looted from the Museum and the British authorities were under obligation to return them.
The statement faxed to the newspaper said the artifacts were bought by a Norwegian dealer passed to a British university for evaluation and authenticity.
The statement did not name the university but said the scholars there found that the treasures belonged to the Iraq Museum and were among the pieces that went missing.
The Norwegian had bought them from a Jordanian national who claimed they had been part of family possessions for decades.
The ministry, the statement said, has learned that the British authorities have already started handing over the items to the Norwegian despite complaints by British archeologists that they should be returned to Iraq.
The statement made no mention of the nature of the pieces and the historical period they belonged to.
The ministry says more than 10,000 items are still missing. Iraqi archaeologists have published records of the stolen items along with their pictures and museum serial numbers.
The register is also available electronically to make it easy for official art dealers, academics and police authorities to identify.
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