Cameron rules out return of Kohinoor

July 29th, 2010 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron has clearly ruled out the return of the Kohinoor diamond to India, saying if such demands were agreed to, it would lead to empty rooms in British Museums.
“I know there is also a great argument about the original provenance of the Kohinoor diamond. I’m afraid this will disappoint viewers, but it’s going to have to stay put,” Cameron said in an interview to NDTV news channel.

The issue about the fabled diamond, which was mined in the Deccan and is now part of the British crown jewels, had been raised by British MP of Indian origin Keith Vaz just before Cameron began his two-day visit to India.

Vaz had said in a statement: “I believe that this is the perfect opportunity for the prime minister to discuss the issue of the Kohinoor. It would be very fitting for the Kohinoor to return to the country in which it was mined so soon after the diamond jubilee of the Indian republic and 161 years after its removal from India.”

Cameron, however, pointed out that the return of the diamond would set a precedent, which could lead to the emptying of museums in Britain.

“What tends to happen with these questions is that if you say yes to one, you suddenly find the British Museum will be emptied,” he asserted.

Greece has also been vocal about its demand for return of the marble frieze looted from the Parthenon by the Earl of Elgin 200 years ago.

India and Britain will be signing a bilateral deal related to culture during Cameron’s visit that ends Thursday.

Jeremy Hunt, the British secretary of state for culture, media and sports, pointed out that Cameron’s trip was “to discuss about cultural exchanges and to create a climate for holding several cultural exchange programmes.”

But he parried a question from IANS on whether Britain was open to exhibiting the Kohinoor in India saying, “it’s a controversial issue and (he) would not like to comment”.

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