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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Artefacts to be returned 'soon', says French envoyStaff Correspondent

The newly appointed French ambassador to Bangladesh Charley Causeret has said the Bangladeshi artefacts remaining in France would be sent back to Bangladesh "soon".

"The issue is being resolved. The artefacts will be returned to Bangladesh as soon as possible," the ambassador told Tuesday after a meeting with foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury at the foreign ministry.

He stressed that the theft of two rare Vishnu statues would not affect bilateral relations between Bangladesh and France.

"Not at all, it will not affect (relations) in any way. The incident will not hurt the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and France," Causeret told reporters.

According to an agreement between Bangladesh authorities and the Guimet museum, 42 artefacts were sent to Paris in 2007 for exhibition.

After two images of Lord Vishnu went missing, presumed stolen, on Dec 22 from Zia Interational Airport, a second shipment of artefacts to the French capital was cancelled.

Causeret declined to comment on the timeframe for returning the 42 artefacts back to Bangladesh.

The foreign adviser said: "I have told the ambassador that Bangladesh will welcome a visit by (French foreign minister) Bernard Kouchner."

Iftekhar said Kouchner and Causeret—who was as an officer of the French Embassy in Dhaka immediately after Bangladesh independence—were both friends of Bangladesh.

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