Iran demands 300,000 dollars over row with British Museum

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Iran wants 300,000 dollars in compensation from the British Museum for failing to lend Tehran an ancient Persian treasure, the Cyrus Cylinder, state-owned Press TV reported on its website on Monday.

Hamid Baghai, head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, said the compensation was demanded since the museum which was to hand over the antique to Tehran for display in Iran had refused to do so.

"The National Museum of Iran has spent about 300,000 dollars for the exhibition (of the antique) and we will demand that our loss be compensated by the British Museum," Hamid Baghai said.

In February, Baghai said Iran had cut ties with the British Museum in protest at repeated delays in lending the 2,500-year-old antique, a decision which surprised the museum.

Many historians regard the Cyrus Cylinder, discovered in 1879, as the world's first declaration of human rights. It was written at the order of Persian ruler Cyrus the Great after his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC.

Diplomatic ties between Tehran and London have fluctuated since the creation of the Islamic republic in 1979, and further deteriorated after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June.

Tehran has accused London of fomenting post-election riots and detained nine local British embassy staff for up to several weeks.

© 2010 AFP

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