Greece to help Iraq cultural reconstruction
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, left, and his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis answer questions during a press conference after their meeting in Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009. Bakoyannis said Greece has agreed to provide technical and financial aid to repair and reorganize Iraqi museums and cultural sites damaged and looted during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece pledged Tuesday to provide financial and technical aid to help Iraq restore and conserve its damaged archaeological sites and museums.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Greece and Iraq have also agreed to build a monument honoring the Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great at an ancient battlefield in southern Iraq.
She was speaking after talks in Athens with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
Iraqi museums and sites suffered extensive damage and looting in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The National Museum of Baghdad, a treasure trove of artifacts from the Stone Age through the Babylonian, Assyrians and Islamic periods, fell victim to bands of armed thieves. Up to 7,000 pieces are still missing.
Zebari welcomed the Greek offer of cultural assistance, which he said followed an Iraqi request.
“We have great need of such assistance,” he said, adding that technical committees from both countries would meet to discuss the details.
Zebari said the battlefield monument would underline the interaction of civilizations in the region.
It will be built near the city of Mosul, where Alexander won a crushing victory over a Persian army in 331 B.C. At the time, Iraq was part of the Persian Empire, which stretched throughout most of the Middle East.