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G7 culture ministers discuss threat of cultural trafficking

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/30/2017
Canada's Culture Minister Melanie Joly, left, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, center, and French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay, meet the media during a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press Canada's Culture Minister Melanie Joly, left, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, center, and French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay, meet the media during a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP)

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — During their first formal meeting ever, Group of Seven industrialized nations culture ministers have discussed the looting and trafficking of cultural treasures by extremist organizations.

US Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Bruce Wharton, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press US Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Bruce Wharton, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP)

The topic was on the table both during technical sessions by experts and law enforcement and during the afternoon meeting of G-7 cultural ministers and top officials on Thursday.

Culture Minister of France, Audrey Azoulay, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press Culture Minister of France, Audrey Azoulay, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP)

U.S. Ambassador Bruce Wharton, acting undersecretary for public diplomacy, told reporters that the ministers discussed the grave risk posed by "looting and trafficking at the hands of terrorist organizations and criminal networks."

UNESCO General Director Irina Bokova, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press UNESCO General Director Irina Bokova, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP)

He cited the pillaging of heritage sites in Timbuktu in Mali, Palmyra in Syria and the Mosul museum in Iraq, which experts are just beginning to assess after 2 ½ years in the hands of Islamic State group extremists.

Canada's Culture Minister Melanie Joly, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP) © The Associated Press Canada's Culture Minister Melanie Joly, right, is welcomed by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini as she arrives for a first-ever G7 Culture ministers meeting in Florence, Italy, March 30, 2017. (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP)
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