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Return of Cambodian artefacts delayed

Written By vibykhmer on Sunday, April 19, 2009 | 6:16 PM


April 20, 2009
The Nation

Due to recent domestic difficulties, Thailand has postponed the repatriation of seven smuggled artefacts to Cambodia.

"The Thai Cabinet will reschedule the return on a later date," Kriengkrai Sampatchalit, director-general of the Fine Arts Department, said yesterday.
Six of the artefacts were due to be sent back with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's one-day visit to Cambodia scheduled for last Saturday.

However, after the Asean Summit with dialogue partners in Pattaya collapsed on April 11 and rioting erupted in Bangkok on the following two days, foreign trips were cancelled.

The Foreign Ministry has already informed Cambodia of the decision, Kriengkrai said.

The seven ancient relics, including the one presented to the Cambodian prime minister in a formal hand-over ceremony in Pattaya on April 10, were still under the department's supervision, he said.

"We have given them proper care," he said.

Six of the pieces are asura (demon) heads while the other one is in the form of deva (angel) head.

Although the treasures have not yet been delivered, their planned homecoming has already warmed frosty ties between the two neighbours.

"The relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been improving since April 10," he said. "Officials and agencies from the two countries are expected to agree on many forms of cooperation soon."

Cambodia intends to submit more documentation to claim 36 other historic objects seized in Thailand.

"As soon as the evidence arrives, we'll work on it," he said.

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