Treasures return to Cambodia

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The Independent Online

Cambodian dancers are seen here performing a ceremonial dance in Phnom Penh yesterday to celebrate the repatriation of seven precious Khmer artefacts. The pieces, which were recovered by officials in the US, are made of sandstone and bronze and are thought to date back to the 10th and 12th century of the Angkor period. Included are a decorative temple element, the head of a male divinity and a horse.

A US envoy handed them over to the Cambodian National Museum to mark the 60th anniversary of relations between the the US and the South-east Asian country.

The US under secretary of state, William Burns, said at the handover ceremony: "Our efforts to return these artefacts exemplify the respect we have for Cambodian historical patrimony and culture."

The ceremony came just weeks after Human Rights Watch said it was "outrageous" that the United States was supplying equipment worth millions of dollars to Cambodian army units which are accused of human-rights abuses within the country. After yesterday's festivities, US officials were travelling today to Indonesia, with which Washington is seeking stronger ties.