Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Enany, handed over a collection of authentic coins, currencies, and bonds to Iraqi Ambassador Habib Mohamed Hadi Al-Sadr and to Chinese Ambassador Song Aiguo in a formal ceremony at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square on Sunday.
The returned artefacts had been seized before they could be successfully smuggled out of the country.
"The artefacts were handed over in accordance with the UNESCO agreement which Egypt joined in 1972, and in accordance with bilateral collaboration agreements which obligate Egypt to seize foreign antiquities if they are smuggled through its territories, and to show them to the relevant embassy in order to check whether they are on their heritage list in attempt to guarantee the protection of their cultural properties," Ahmed El-Rawi, who runs the ministry's unit which oversees antiquities inspections at ports, told Ahram Online.
The 44 Iraqi currency pieces, which date back to the early 20th century reigns of Kings Ghazi I, Faisal I, and Faisal II, were seized at Cairo International Airport. The 13 Chinese bonds and Yuan banknote were seized at the Ramses Post Office port and hold clues to the economic status of the Qing royal family, which ruled the Chinese Empire from the 17th until the 20th centuries.
During the ceremony Ambassador Aiguo described the return of these artefacts as "an important part of bilateral cooperation between both countries, as well as a specific move to jointly protect antiquities."
Ambassador Al-Sadr noted in his speech that he very much appreciates Egypt's efforts to protect stolen Iraqi antiquities and that their return reveals the strong friendship and collaboration between the two countries.