Cambodia, U.S. Celebrate Repatriation of 27 Cambodian Looted Artifacts

The Kingdom of Cambodia and the United States of America celebrated the repatriation of 27 looted artifacts to Cambodia at the National Museum on July 13.

The event was presided over by Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs H.E. Daniel J. Kritenbrink, and U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. W. Patrick Murphy.

According to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh AKP received this afternoon, U.S. Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink highlighted a memorandum of understanding between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United States, which has solidified U.S.-Cambodia cultural cooperation, facilitated the return of over 100 priceless antiquities, and built the capacity of Cambodians working on cultural heritage preservation.

H.E. Daniel J. Kritenbrink also praised the joint efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice and law enforcement, Manhattan District Attorney, Homeland Security Investigations, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and U.S. Embassy that led to the return of 27 pieces.

“Today’s ceremony is a testament to the strong relationship between the United States and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” H.E. Daniel J. Kritenbrink said. “U.S. government initiatives, such as the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, demonstrate our longstanding support for the restoration of historic sites of cultural significance for Cambodia.”

At the ceremony, H.E. Ambassador Murphy announced a new U.S. government grant through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation of US$360,800 to support the restoration of Preah Vihear Temple. This is in addition to over US$406,000 already provided by the U.S. government for the preservation of the historic temple in northern Cambodia.

“The United States is proud of its contribution to Cambodia’s cultural heritage preservation efforts and to our joint efforts to repatriate invaluable artifacts from the U.S. back to Cambodia,” he said.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona concluded the ceremony stating “we sincerely appreciate the contributions of the U.S. Government, both in time and resources, in fighting the illicit trafficking of cultural properties. We look forward to further our cooperation in our investigations and efforts, training and exchange of information and expertise as we recover our national treasures.”

The United States has provided over US$5 million to the Royal Government of Cambodia since 2001 for cultural preservation efforts, including over US$3.5 million to conserve the Phnom Bakheng Temple in Siem Reap and to support to the Toul Sleng Museum.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press