Egypt will not permit any new foreign expeditions to begin excavations in southern Egypt for the coming decade in an attempt to preserve the monuments, the antiquities chief said on Wednesday. \nZahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said concentration is instead needed at sites in the Nile Delta and in the desert. \n"We say this for the sake of the monuments," Hawass told reporters. ``We are not going to please you [foreigners] and destroy the monuments.'' \nHe said there are 300 foreign expeditions in the country. \n"Those are scholars and re-spected ones, working in the field and who know the value of Egyptian monuments," he said. "But we also have amateurs, who can damage the monuments." \nMost of the expeditions concentrate their work in the south of the country, where rich archaeological sites include the temples of Luxor and Karnak and the Valley of the Kings. \nThe ban on new expeditions is part of a series of measures taken by the council after a British expedition made headlines over the summer by claiming -- in a program aired on the US Discovery Channel -- to have identified the mummy of Queen Nefertiti. \nEgyptian council officials were angry at the report, which they felt sidelined the council, and rejected the claims, saying the mummy was a man. \nHawass also said the British team violated a contract that obligates archaeologists to announce any discoveries through the council and not independently. \nAmid his furious attack on Joan Fletcher, the head of the British team, Hawass said the archaeologist sent him a letter denying that she had said the mummy belongs to Nefertiti. \n"Joan said she never said this is Nefertiti. She said that she just thought she was Nefertiti," he said. "I wonder how someone deceived the whole world, and now she is telling us she didn't." \nEgypt has long lamented antiquities that have been taken out of Egypt, including the Nefertiti bust and the Rosetta Stone, which is on display in the British Museum. But Hawass said he could only ask for the return of antiquities taken after 1970, according to a UNESCO treaty of that year that does not apply retroactively. \n"We have a catalog of all artifacts that were taken out illegally from Egypt after 1970," said Hawass, who leads a campaign for the return of stolen Egyptian artifacts. "We will not cooperate with the museum that doesn't return Egypt's antiquities." \nAmong the new rules adopted by the council, Hawass announced that all the excavation missions will receive training before starting working on the sites and that archaeologists must publish their discoveries in English and Arabic in the council's journal. \nArchaeologists at the press conference also announced the discovery of part of a 3,200-year-old cuneiform tablet of diplomatic correspondence between the ancient Egyptian and Hittite kingdoms. The 5cm-by-5cm tablet, found by a German team working in Qantir, about 100km northeast of Cairo, is believed to be one of the few Hittite letters discovered in Egypt. \nEdgar Pusch, head of the German team, said the text, sent from King Hattusili III to Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, is related to a peace treaty between the rival kingdoms, which fought a war from 1300 to 1200BC before agreeing to the first known peace treaty.
SECRET AGREEMENT: China is paying for construction at Ream Naval Base, where dredging would be needed if larger military ships were to dock there, AMTI said Dredgers have been spotted off Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, where China is funding construction work and deeper port facilities would be necessary for the docking of larger military ships, a US think tank said on Friday. The US, which has sought to push back against Beijing’s extensive territorial claims and military expansion in the South China Sea, reiterated its “serious concerns” about China’s construction and military presence at Ream. “These developments threaten US and partner interests, regional security and Cambodia’s sovereignty,” a US Department of State spokesperson said. The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said the
France is to relax some COVID-19 restrictions from early next month in a bet that an outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 would recede thanks to faster inoculations and plans to shut the unvaccinated out of most social activities. The French government is to lift the obligation to work from home at least three days a week from Feb. 2, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. It would also remove a requirement to wear a mask outdoors, and scrap attendance limits for sports arenas and cultural venues, Castex said. Infections with the Delta variant are “clearly receding,” while the
‘PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE’: Authorities asked anyone who bought a hamster after Dec. 22 to hand it over after hamsters at a shop tested positive for the Delta variant Hong Kong’s government yesterday faced outrage over its decision to cull hundreds of small animals after hamsters in a store tested positive for COVID-19. Like China, Hong Kong maintains a staunch “zero COVID” policy, stamping out the merest trace of the virus with contact tracing, mass testing, strict quarantines and prolonged social distancing rules. Its latest measures target hamsters and other small mammals — including chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs, which authorities on Tuesday said would be culled as a “precautionary measure.” The drastic move came after hamsters sold at the Little Boss pet shop tested positive for the Delta variant of
RED LINE: The US and its allies would not accept if ‘any’ Russian troops cross into Ukraine, the state secretary said, clarifying Biden’s remarks about a ‘minor incursion’ The US and its allies on Thursday warned Moscow of grave consequences if “any” of the tens of thousands of troops massed on the border were to cross into Ukraine. Following talks in Berlin with Germany, France and the UK, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Russia “cannot match” Western powers’ resoluteness. Allowing Russia to breach Ukraine’s territorial integrity would “drag us all back to a much more dangerous and unstable time, when this continent, and this city, were divided in two ... with the threat of all-out war hanging over everyone’s heads,” he told reporters. In a show of that