Italians restorers have been asked to assist in the restoration of the Forbidden City in China and to train Afghan restorers in Rome.

Restoration experts from the Florence university architectural planning department have met the deputy director of the Forbidden City's ancient architecture department to discuss a conservation project for wood, tiles, mortar and decorative arts.

The Forbidden City, home of 24 emperors and the country's political centre until 1912, was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. It has the worlds largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures.

Meanwhile, the experts at Rome's renowned Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (ICR) are training Afghan art restorers to repair damage to cultural sites in Afghanistan devastated by years of war and Taliban rule, including the 2,000 year-old statues of Buddha which were blown up in 2001.