FLORENCE, Italy – During their first formal meeting ever, Group of Seven industrialized nations culture ministers have discussed the looting and trafficking of cultural treasures by extremist organizations.
The topic was on the table both during technical sessions by experts and law enforcement and during the afternoon meeting of G-7 cultural ministers and top officials on Thursday.
U.S. Ambassador Bruce Wharton, acting undersecretary for public diplomacy, told reporters that the ministers discussed the grave risk posed by "looting and trafficking at the hands of terrorist organizations and criminal networks."
He cited the pillaging of heritage sites in Timbuktu in Mali, Palmyra in Syria and the Mosul museum in Iraq, which experts are just beginning to assess after 2 ½ years in the hands of Islamic State group extremists.