The interim government of Afghanistan intends to restore as soon as possible the gigantic Buddha statues ruined by the Taliban, Rahin Mahdum, minister of information and culture of the new administration, told journalists in Kabul. The minister stressed that he had discussed the problem in the UN and several countries had already displayed their interest in the project of statue reconstruction. "We want to start working as soon as possible," Mahdum said. The two statues of 57 and 38 metres high are located in the province of Bamian, 100 kilometres to the north-west of Kabul. In March 2001, despite the protests of the world community, the Taliban blew these historical religious monuments up as incompatible with Islam.