Iran threatens to sever links with UK in row over Cyrus Cylinder

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Iran has threatened to cut cultural ties with the UK after the British Museum refused to hand over a 23cm clay cylinder inscribed by Cyrus the Great, the Persian king.

The museum had promised to lend Iran the cylinder, thought to be inscribed with the first declaration of human rights, after borrowing several key works form Iranian museums for its exhibition oon Shah Abbas, the Iranian emperor, last year.

But researchers are now insisting on keeping the Cyrus Cylinder in London to be studied alongside two small fragments of clay found in a drawer at the museum thought to contain clues to the meaning of the document.

The delay to the loan, due to take place this month despite fears over political instability in Iran, has prompted the Iranian foreign ministry to threaten to withdraw future co-operation with the British Museum.

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