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US Brings Back Seven Major Artifacts

The US returned seven Angkorian artifacts to Cambodia Thursday in a ceremony in the seaport of Preah Sihanouk province.

The seven artifacts consist of two heads of Buddha sculptures and other religious items weighing about 500 kilograms.

They were confiscated by US customs in Los Angeles, where they remained for up to three years, US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said.

“They were confiscated based on [an agreement] we signed with the Ministry of Culture, which bans the import of antiquities of that era into the United States,” he said.

Ork Sophon, director general for the Ministry of Culture, said smuggling activities had been greatly curbed since the agreement.

The organization Heritage Watch estimates that around $20 million in Khmer antiquities have been traded since 1988, with 90 percent of them acquired illegally, through the main gateways of Thailand and Singapore.