U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry sign a U.S.-Egypt cultural property agreement, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on November 30, 2016. [State Department photo]
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
November 29, 2016
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will sign a landmark bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on cultural property protection on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 5:45 p.m. at the U.S. Department of State.
This is the first cultural property protection agreement between the United States and a country in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Under the agreement, the United States will impose import restrictions on archaeological material representing Egypt’s cultural heritage dating from 5200 B.C. through 1517 A.D. Restrictions are intended to reduce the incentive for pillage and trafficking and are one of the many ways the United States is fighting the global market in illegal antiquities.
The cultural property agreement, negotiated by the State Department under U.S. law implementing the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, underscores the United States’ commitment to our relationship with Egypt, as well as our global commitment to cultural heritage protection and preservation. The U.S. now has bilateral agreements with 16 countries around the world, as well as emergency import restrictions on cultural property from two other countries, Iraq and Syria.
Secretary of State
The Treaty Room
November 30, 2016
(The memorandum was signed.)
SECRETARY KERRY: My great pleasure to welcome the foreign minister of Egypt here today, and I think both of us would express our pleasure at signing this U.S.-Egypt cultural property agreement. This has been years in the making. It represents the first agreement in the Middle East or North Africa regarding the protection of antiquities. And it’s a real challenge on a global basis, so this is groundbreaking. I think it’s a good moment for Egypt, the United States, for the region, for us to make it clear that these antiquities are priceless treasures that do not belong to traffickers and crooks and should not be sold illegally and bought by wealthy people to hide away somewhere. They are the antiquities that belong to the world, that have been protected and should be protected by an old civilization. And so I think this is a great step forward, and Sameh, I thank you for joining in this effort. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. I’m delighted to be here on this occasion to sign this important agreement of the maintenance and protection of our heritage, both for the Egyptian people but for humanity at large. This is a common heritage that we share and it is important to protect and maintain people’s understanding of the commonality that binds us together. So we are grateful for the cooperation that the United States has shown and the understanding on this important issue, and we hope that it becomes a roadmap for the protection of these antiquities to preserve them for generations to come and to preserve them against the treachery of those who want to destroy them and to wipe out this commonality of our humanity. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. (Applause.)