Plea over Machu Picchu artefacts

Peru's government has formally asked Barack Obama to assist its efforts in persuading Yale University to return thousands of artefacts which were taken from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

President Alan Garcia wrote that it was "just and necessary" for Mr Obama to intervene on Peru's behalf, so the South American nation can recover its cultural heritage. The Peruvian government and Yale are at odds over possession of the artefacts, including funeral shrouds, bones, textiles and ceramics. Peru demands their return, while Yale hopes to negotiate a settlement over the artefacts, which were removed about a century ago.

"President and great friend, almost 100 years have passed since then and despite the many requests made on different occasions by successive Peruvian governments, Yale University has not returned to the Peruvian government the property of Machu Picchu," Mr Garcia wrote.

His letter was delivered by hand to the US ambassador in Peru, Rose Likins by Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde.

Peru has had a lawsuit pending in a Connecticut court since 2008, demanding Yale return all artefacts taken by the scholar Hiram Bingham III between 1911 and 1915.

Yale says that it returned dozens of boxes of artefacts in 1921 and that Peru knew it would retain some.