Syria and South Africa to reach agreement on protecting cultural heritage

Damascus, SANA – Minister of Culture Issam Khalil discussed on Sunday with Ambassador of South Africa in Damascus Shaun Byneveldt means to develop bilateral cultural relations and protecting the Syrian cultural heritage that is highly jeopardized by terrorists.

The ancient city of Palmyra, in central Syria, which is home to one of the Middle East’s most famous UNESCO world heritage sites, is a recent example of cultural and historical heritage being threatened by terrorist organizations.

Terrorists overran the city last month, raising fear that the ruins and historic treasures there could face destruction and looting.

The discussions between Khalil and Byneveldt focused mainly on the mechanism for drafting an agreement for cultural cooperation, especially in protecting the Syrian cultural heritage and antiquities.

The Minister stressed that protecting heritage is an international responsibility inasmuch as it is Syria’s responsibility, offering thanks to the government of South Africa for its offer of help in protecting historic treasures in Syria.

He spoke of this future cooperation in a statement to reporters following the meeting, saying both sides are working to reach a memo of understanding in cultural cooperation where the South African government will provide various forms of assistance to Syria in cultural heritage protection.

For his part, Byneveldt said his government seeks to strengthen cultural cooperation with Syria and will see what to do in terms of helping the latter in preserving its cultural treasures.

Manar al-Frieh/Haifa Said

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