Greece brings Alexander the Great to Iraq

Athens to help Baghdad reconstruct museums


Greece and Iraq announced plans to build a statue to Alexander the Great in northern Iraq to mark the fall of the Persian empire, while Athens pledged financial aid to help reconstruct Baghdad's looted and war- stricken museums.

In a move said to be aimed at intensifying cultural cooperation, the foreign ministers of the two history-rich nations said a monument is set to be erected in ancient Gaugamela in northern Iraq—present-day Mosul—where the legendary Macedonian king defeated Persian emperor Darius III in 331 BC in a battle that heralded the demise of the Persian empire.

The project "must symbolize the reciprocal influence between the people" of Greece and Iraq, the Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni said, adding that Athens was ready to provide some of the funding.

"We think the monument to Alexander is a great idea...It shows the cultural interaction in all sectors between the two countries and their people," said Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari.

Athens also pledged to help Iraq recover thousands of priceless antiquities looted after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 from Baghdad's National Museum.

The U.S. government pledged this month nearly $700,000 to help restore the ancient Mesopotamian city of Babylon in Iraq, which the World Monuments Fund said had been damaged by occupying U.S. troops using it as a military base.

Alexander (356 BC to 323 BC) was one of the most successful military commanders of all time and by the time of his death, had conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks -- going as far up to India.

After the Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander proclaimed himself king of Asia at the age of 25.

Greece claims Alexander as part of its heritage, partly due to the fact that he was tutored by Aristotle.