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Iran's hackles rise as British Museum hesitates in Cyrus Cylinder lease

The museum director has reassured Iran's vice president that the wait does not mean the loan has been called off

Last month Iran threatened to cut cultural links with the UK if London’s British Museum (BM) does not lend the Cyrus Cylinder to Tehran’s National Museum. Hamid Baqaei, vice president responsible for culture, gave a two-month deadline. Dating from around 539BC, the cylinder has been described as the “first charter of human rights”. It was legitimately acquired by the BM from an excavation in 1879. BM director Neil MacGregor responded to Baqaei on 12 October, to reassure him that the museum “is very much hoping to send the Cyrus Cylinder on loan...but as with all our international loans, details and practicalities will have to be discussed.” John Curtis, keeper of the BM’s Middle East department, is expected to visit Tehran in the next few weeks. Iranian elections in June kept president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power, and relations with the west have remained tense.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Iran chides British Museum'