Egypt said Wednesday its antiquities department severed ties with France's Louvre museum because it has refused to return what are described as stolen artifacts, one of the country's most aggressive attempts yet to reclaim relics from some of the world's leading Egyptology collections.
The Louvre's communications office said the museum is open to returning the artifacts demanded by Egypt, though the decision has to be taken by a special committee.
The Egyptian ruling means that no archaeological expeditions connected to the France's premier museum will be allowed to work in Egypt. Already Egypt has suspended an excavation sponsored by the Louvre at the massive necropolis of Saqqara and canceled a lecture in Egypt by a former curator of the museum.
"The Louvre Museum refused to return four archaeological reliefs to Egypt that were stolen during the 1980s from the tomb of the noble Tetaki," near the famed temple city of Luxor, said a statement quoting Supreme Council of Antiquities head Zahi Hawass.