Iraq exhibits ancient artefacts returned by U.S. and other countries

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq on Monday exhibited several ancient artefacts that it said had been returned by the United States and other countries, long after they were looted and smuggled out following the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Iraqi authorities have been trying to retrieve thousands of archaeological relics missing since the invasion, which was followed by widespread looting in the country that some historians regard as the cradle of civilisation.

Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein handed the recently recovered relics over to Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Ahmed al-Badrani at a ceremony in Baghdad.

Most of the artefacts on display at the foreign ministry headquarters were returned by the U.S. after a visit by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to Washington in April, Badrani said.

He said other relics had been returned by other states, but gave no details.

Hussein said more "rare archeological collections" would be returned by Switzerland and Japan this month.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, editing by Timothy Heritage)