It was the diplomatic version of the gift you politely receive, but since you already have more than one, you just end up throwing it into the closet until someone asks about it: Some 600 artifacts repatriated by the US to Iraq have been found with kitchen supplies in the offices of Iraq's Prime Minister after questions arose concerning their whereabouts. See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/world/middleeast/08iraq.html?_r=2
In other news, it was reported that cuneiform tablets that had been seized from a shipment from Syria, but which had been attributed to Iraq before being damaged in the 9/11 Terrorist attack, have been restored at the cost of $100,000 before also being repatriated. See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/16/arts/design/16tablets.html
All this is part of a larger effort to fix Iraqi archaeology that has cost the State Department and its Cultural Heritage Center at least $13 million to date. See http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/iraq.html
But has all this taxpayer money been well spent? And isn't it finally time to let the Iraqis themselves take responsibility for funding their own archaeological establishment?
Perhaps, some might fear the treatment the Iraqi Prime Minister's office afforded the repatriated artifacts suggests the Iraqi political establishment cares less about them than does our own State Department and academics, but if so, shouldn't these concerns be taken directly to the Iraqis themselves rather than just throwing more U.S. taxpayer money at the problem?