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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 04:20 GMT
US to return Italian antiquities
The Euphronios Krater
The Euphronios Krater is among the artefacts being returned
A US museum has reached an agreement with the Italian Culture Ministry to return antiquities Italy says were illegally removed from the country.

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art will return six artefacts, including a 2,500-year-old Greek vase.

In return, Italy will provide long-term loans of equivalent works of art.

Italian Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione and museum head Philippe de Montebello will sign the deal on Tuesday, Italian officials said.

The Italian authorities have been cracking down in recent months on antiquities it says have been taken out of the country illegally.

The museum had announced on 2 February that it would transfer the legal title of the six artefacts to Italy after it received evidence from the Italian authorities about the items' origins.

The artefacts to be returned include the Euphronios Krater, a painted vase which is one of the museum's prized pieces, and the "Morgantina treasure", a silver collection from Sicily dating from the 3rd Century.

Other objects to be handed back include Greek earthenware items dating from the 5th to 3rd Centuries BC.

In October 2005, the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles agreed to return three ancient artefacts which were allegedly stolen from Italy.

Italian prosecutors have charged Getty curator Marion True with conspiracy to receive stolen goods and illegal receipt of archaeological artefacts.

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