People's Daily Online
June 12, 2009
Thailand on Friday handed over seven pieces of Cambodian artifacts stolen by illegal smugglers upon request of the Cambodian government.
It is a positive gesture from Thai side in friendship and cooperation, said Hor Nam Hong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation in the handover ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
He added that one of seven artifacts already was handed over to Cambodia by Thai Premier to Hun Sen in April in the ASEAN summit.
"The seven among 43 artifacts were smuggled from Cambodia to Thailand about 10 year ago," Hor said, adding that we also are urging to Thai side to hand over the rest artifacts.
"All the sandstone artifacts that handed over today are made in Angkor Empire in 12th and 13 centuries," he said, adding that the seven included one head of angel and six heads of giants.
Chuch Phoeung, secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, told Xinhua that Thailand also pledged to return the remaining 36 pieces at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen, but only when all proven documents are presented.
He said, as of this date, Cambodia has presented full proven documents identifying 18 pieces of all 43 Cambodian artifacts stolen to Cambodia in 1990s.
And as agreed upon, the seven pieces were returned today and the other 11 pieces will be in later stage, he said.
When asked whether any other Cambodian artifacts were stolen and illegally smuggled to other countries, Chuch Phoeung said, to his best knowledge, five pieces are in Switzerland and one piece in Indonesia.
Attracting more than one million foreign tourists last year, Cambodia is best known as one of Asian nations rich in cultural heritages such as Angkor Wat temple complex, built between 9th to 12th century. Angkor Wat Temple is located in Cambodia's northern Siem Reap province.