Cambodia welcomes repatriation of 3 looted statues

Walter Timoshuk, right, president of Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, Calif., places flowers onto a 10th century Cambodian sandstone statue returned from the United States during a handover ceremony at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Cambodia has welcomed back three statues that had been in Western art collections after having been looted from a 1,000-year-old temple during war. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) Show caption
Walter Timoshuk, right, president of Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, Calif., places flowers onto a 10th century Cambodian sandstone statue returned from the United States during a handover ceremony at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Cambodia has welcomed back three statues that had been in Western art collections after having been looted from a 1,000-year-old temple during war. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia has welcomed back three statues that had been in Western art collections after having been looted from a 1,000-year-old temple during war.

The pieces were handed over at a ceremony Tuesday attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and U.S. diplomat Jeff Daigle.

The statues were returned by the U.S. branches of auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and the Norton Simon Museum in California.

They originally came from the Koh Ker temple complex in Siem Reap province, also home to the Angkor Wat temples. Cambodian officials said they were stolen during the civil war in the 1970s.

The mainstream art world considers pieces as being acquired illegitimately if they were exported without clear documentation after 1970, the year of a United Nations cultural agreement targeting trafficking in antiquities.