Expo incidents not to affect relations with France: Bangladesh

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Dhaka, Dec 27 (UNI) Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury today expressed the hope that the theft of the artifacts and consequent request for cancellation of the exhibition at Guimet Museum in Paris would ''have no adverse impact on the larger bilateral relations between Bangladesh and France''.

''Despite the regrettable incident and its consequences, we believe the ties between Bangladesh and France are too strong to be adversely affected, and spread across a wide spectrum of bilateral and multilateral activities,'' he told the media.

The Bangladesh government requested the French authorities to cancel the exhibition of Bangladeshi artifacts after Paris bound two terracotta statues of Hindu god Vishnu were stolen from Zia International Airport last Saturday.

A group of artists and members of the civil society vehemently opposed the sending of Bangladeshi artifacts to Guimet museum for exhibition fearing that original artifacts might not be returned.

The uproar led to the resignation of Education and Cultural Affairs Advisor Dr Ayub Quadri on Wednesday night.

Police said a gang behind the stealing of the two statues was arrested in Dhaka city last night.

Meanwhile, France today said they took note of the sovereign decision of the Bangladesh government to cancel the loan agreements between the Guimet museum in Paris and various cultural institutions in Bangladesh.

''We fully respect this decision while regretting the cancellation of an event likely to enhance the cultural presence of Bangladesh throughout the world,'' the French embassy said in a statement.

It said France reaffirms its readiness to carry on its cooperation with Bangladesh in the friendly manner that has always prevailed.

The Embassy said the Guimet museum has been informed of decision of Bangladesh government and of the request to send back the 42 items already in the museum. The artifacts are being crated.

UNI

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