Thailand Hands Over 16 Looted Artifacts During Ministry Visit

After a three-day trip to Thailand, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said Sunday upon his return that 16 artifacts looted from Cambodia were officially returned during a ceremony in Bangkok.

“They gave us the 16 artifacts and they will transport them to Siem Reap,” Mr. Namhong said after arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport on Sunday afternoon.

He did not say when the pieces would arrive in Cambodia.

The artifacts were among at least 43 others confiscated in Thailand in 1999. Mr. Namhong said Thailand had another 20 pieces that could possibly be of Khmer origin, and that it had agreed to allow Cambodia to inspect them.

“They will let our experts go and see which ones belong to us and which ones belong to them, because the Thais also have some that are similar to ours,” he said.

An additional 100 artifacts that were seized later were found to be mostly fakes, but Thailand is still inspecting the lot to determine if any are Khmer and should be returned to Cambodia, Mr. Namhong said.

Also during his trip to Thailand, Mr. Namhong said he signed an agreement with Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn that would allow people living along border provinces in both countries to receive temporary passes that would allow them to move back and forth across the border easily.

“Our workers along the border provinces can work and return in the evening by only using border passes and don’t need passports,” he said. Mr. Namhong added that longer stays would also be possible.

“Anyone who wants to stay 15 days, or even a month, will be able to if there is agreement from the country concerned,” he said.

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