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ASSISTANT SECRETARY RYAN: Hello everyone.
Thank you so much for your patience.
It's great to see you all here today.
I would like to acknowledge and to thank Ambassador Reda of Egypt, Ambassador Bouguerra of Algeria,
and our cultural heritage preservation partners.
We have Deborah Lehr here from the Antiquities Coalition.
We have Gary Knell from National Geographic.
And we also have Patty Gerstenblith, who's here, who's been chairing our Cultural Property
Advisory Committee.
I also want to thank our team, Mark Taplin, our Principal Deputy in ECA who's overseen
this and Maria Kouroupas, who oversees our Cultural Heritage Center, for their great
work.
So, in just a few minutes, Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry
will sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of the Arab Republic of Egypt
and the government of the United States of America, concerning the imposition of import
restrictions on categories of archaeological material of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
People around the world, even at an early age, learn about Egypt's pyramids, mummies,
and hieroglyphs.
Egypt's cultural heritage has been a source of fascination and inspiration for countless
generations, young and old.
Egypt, too, has offered its own unique expression of some of the world's great religions through
architecture, art, and the written word.
In short, Egypt's irreplaceable heritage must be protected, and the United States is
committed to doing its part.
Tomorrow, at the Egyptian Embassy, several objects that were trafficked into the United
States in recent years will be returned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to
their rightful owners, the Egyptian people and their government.
Today's signing of the U.S.-Egypt Cultural Property Agreement is a key step in ensuring
that from now on our two governments will prevent Egypt's cultural patrimony from
being trafficked into the United States in the first place.
This agreement is also important because it further strengthens a long history of cooperation
between our two countries in the area of cultural property protection.
American researchers have been active in the field of Egyptology since its beginnings.
U.S. experts provided technical assistance to help Egypt save monuments from being flooded
by the Aswan High Dam.
The U.S. government has supported Egypt's cultural heritage sector in other ways too,
taking steps to help stabilize the Sphinx, to preserve ancient mosques in Cairo, and
to protect temples in Luxor and other areas of Upper Egypt.
My own Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funded ICOM's publication of an
emergency red list of Egyptian cultural objects at risk and supports other Egyptian projects
under the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation.
Finally, I'd like to note that the cultural property agreement that will be signed today
is the first we have concluded with a partner country in the Middle East region.
The United States stands ready to enter into similar agreements with other countries, whose
cultural heritage is at risk of being looted and illegally trafficked.
Please stand by.
We hope momentarily to have with us ‒ [LAUGHTER] ‒ Secretary Kerry and Egyptian Foreign Minister
Shoukry.
And again, thank you for your patience.
[APPLAUSE]
[LAUGHTER]
[CAMERAS CLICKING]
[APPLAUSE]
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]
Thank you for joining us.
We appreciate it.
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Signing Ceremony: Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Property Protection with Egypt

55 Folder Collection
alex published on August 17, 2019
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