Iran cuts ties with France's Louvre museum
Iran has cut ties with The Louvre, a top official said on Monday, accusing the renowned Paris museum of violating a commitment made to a Tehran heritage body.
"This organisation as of today will cease its cooperation with The Louvre for violating its commitment," Hamid Baghai, who heads Tehran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, was quoted by the state television website as saying.
"Based on our agreement, this museum should have sent us some artefacts in order to set up an exhibition here but for unknown reasons they have not," he added without elaborating.
"In the cultural field, we do not accept that European countries look down on us," Baghai said, adding that "in this field the centres who carry the title of being scientific but act politically should be confronted."
In January, Baghai had warned The Louvre cultural ties with France would be cut if the Paris museum failed to set up an exhibition of Persian artefacts in Iran as agreed.
Under an agreement between Iran and France, "years ago we set up exhibits in The Louvre in exchange for them setting up their Persian artefacts here," he said in January.
"But The Louvre officials did not take any steps. The officials at The Louvre have until the end of the 1389 (Iranian year ending March 2011) to precisely tell us when and what they are going to set up here," he said.
This is not the first time that Baghai has taken on a world-renowned museum.
In February 2010, he said Tehran had severed ties with the British Museum in protest at repeated delays in lending the Islamic republic the world-famous Cyrus Cylinder, a fragmented 2,600-year old clay item bearing a cuneiform inscription.
The British Museum loaned Iran the Cyrus Cylinder in September 2010, bringing to an end the controversy over the ancient terracotta.
Many Persian artefacts dating back thousands of years can be seen across museums in Europe, the United States and Russia.
© 2011 AFP