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Iraq

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what help and advice she is offering to the authorities in Iraq to help secure the return of looted antiquities. [111477]

We are working closely with UNESCO and the British Museum to develop a co-ordinated response to Iraq's needs from the archaeological and museum world. On 29 April I attended a seminar of world experts at the British Museum. We aim to support members of the international museum and archaeological communities in their efforts to assist the Iraqis in identifying and recovering antiquities looted from museums and sites. Within the next few weeks we will be sending an advance team of administrators and archaeological professionals to join the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Aid (ORHA) in Iraq. Working with Iraqi colleagues they will be able to reach rapid conclusions about the extent of the damage to Iraqi museums and sites and to begin the process of making an inventory of missing objects.