Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday brought home a 2,700-year-old Persian artifact the US administration gave him as “a special gift” to Iranians, media reports said.
“The Americans contacted us on Thursday and said ‘we have a gift for you’,” Rouhani told reporters upon arrival at the airport in Tehran, the ILNA news agency reported.
“They gave it back as a special gift to the Iranian nation.”
Rouhani was speaking of a 7th century BC silver Persian drinking cup in the shape of a winged Griffin, a legendary creature with the head of an eagle and body of a lion.
It is reported to be worth more than a million dollars.
After being looted from a cave in Iran, the cup was seized by US custom officials in 2003 when an arts dealer attempted to smuggle it into the country, according to a State Department tweet.
Mohammad Ali Najafi, head of Iran’s heritage organisation who accompanied Rouhani to New York, welcomed the news.
“We hope this will mark the beginning of the return of other artifacts,” he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
Rouhani made history on Friday by speaking on the phone to US President Barack Obama in the first contact between Iranian and American leaders since the 1979 Islamic revolution.