Thailand Agrees to Return 16 Confiscated Artifacts

Thailand has agreed to return 16 ancient artifacts—out of at least 43 that were confiscated from smugglers in 1999—to Cambodia after a meeting between the countries’ top diplomats in Siem Reap City on Friday.

The agreement was struck during a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart, Tanasak Patimapragorn, according to ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.

“[The] Thai side agreed to return 16 ancient pieces to Cambodia,” he told reporters after the meeting.

“I would like to clarify that these 16 ancient pieces are among 43 ancient pieces that Thailand confiscated in 1999,” he said, adding he did not know when the handover would take place. In 2009, Mr. Kuong added, Thailand returned seven of the trove of ancient artifacts seized in 1999.

Thousands of artifacts were looted from Cambodia’s ancient temples during the decades of civil war beginning in the 1970s, many of which were smuggled across the border to Thailand.

Last month, Cambodia requested access to a massive collection of artifacts seized from the disgraced former head of the Thai police’s Central Investigation Bureau, some of which are believed to have been stolen from Cambodia.

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