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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Rescue hope for Afghan treasures
Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan
Afghanistan has many cultural and natural treasures
International conservation experts are meeting in Kabul for talks on how to save Afghanistan's cultural heritage.

A key item is the feasibility of restoring ruined treasures such as the Bamiyan Buddhas.

The three-day conference has been organised by the interim government along with the United Nations cultural organisation (Unesco), which the government has asked to coordinate conservation work.

An international committee is due to be formed as the result of the conference.

Taleban fighter stands at site of demolished Buddha
The Islamic Taleban regime tried to destroy the Buddhist heritage
The war-ravaged country sits on a historical crossroads where many cultures have met and mingled - Persian, Greek, Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic.

The two Bamiyan Buddhas, dating from the third or fourth century AD, were Afghanistan's best-known historical monuments until the Taleban last year blasted the enormous statues from the cliff face into which they had been carved.

Minarets and museums

But the conference is also due to debate the fate of other ancient sites in the country and what can be done to preserve them, the BBC's Ian MacWilliam reports from Kabul.

These include the 12th-century Minaret of Jam, the second highest minaret in the world after the Quttub Minar in Delhi, and the blue-tiled mausoleum of the Timurid Queen, Gauhar Shads, in the western city of Herat.

The participants will also consider how to look after what remains of the Kabul Museum.

Looted and badly damaged by fighting, this repository of ancient Buddhist and Indo-Greek art has lost much of its extensive collections.

A programme to return items sold or taken abroad illegally is to be started as soon as the museum has been made sufficiently secure.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Christen Thomson
"The conference will have a daunting task"
Ancient Afghan buddhas

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10 Apr 02 | South Asia
01 Mar 02 | South Asia
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