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Minister on artefacts mission

Minister on artefacts mission

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong will embark on an official visit to Thailand this month to attend a ceremony at which Thai officials will return 16 ancient Cambodian artefacts recovered from smugglers.

In a statement released yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that Namhong will be joined by the senior minister in charge of border affairs at the Council of Ministers, Var Kimhong, and Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeung Sakona for the trip, which begins on July 12.

“While in Thailand, Hor Namhong will also attend the handover ceremony of 16 Cambodian artefacts to Cambodia by Thailand,” the statement reads.

The visit was initiated by Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs General Tanasak Patimapragorn, who invited Namhong, according to the statement.

While there, he will make a courtesy visit to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and hold bilateral talks with Tanasak.

During the ceremony, Thai officials will turn over Cambodian relics, 16 of 50 artefacts seized from disgraced Thai Police Lieutenant Pongpat Chayapan’s alleged crime syndicate and likely smuggled from Cambodia to Thailand during Cambodia’s civil war era.

Some of the items date back 1,400 years and originate in Cambodia’s Phom Da, the Thai Arts Department director-general said at a January press conference in Bangkok, when Thailand announced they would return the antiques.

A number of high-profile artefacts have been repatriated to Cambodia in the past two years.

During that time, items from Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses and from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City have been returned to Cambodia.

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