Italy and U.S. Museum at Impasse Over Disputed Works

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Talks between Italy and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles over 52 art works that Rome says were looted have hit an impasse after the museum said it was prepared to return only half of them.

The Italian Culture Ministry said on Wednesday a letter from the Getty saying the museum would turn over only 26 objects -- not including two prized antiquities whose return Italy had demanded -- had been met with ``surprise and disappointment.''

It did not elaborate, adding simply that the letter was being examined and a statement would be made on Thursday.

The negotiations with the Getty are part of efforts by the Italian government to crack down on the trade in treasures excavated illegally and put pressure on museums worldwide to verify the origin of the works that they buy.

The campaign has yielded a series of deals between Rome and other U.S. art institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, paving the way for the return of disputed antiquities to Italy.

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