In an apparent softening of the British Museum’s tough stance on the status of its Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, the incoming museum director has agreed to meet the head of a UK group lobbying for the marbles’ return to Athens, it was reported yesterday. The Sunday Telegraph said Neil McGregor, who will assume his new duties in August, replacing Robert Anderson, will meet Professor Anthony Snodgrass, chairman of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, within a few weeks of his taking over. «The fact that [McGregor] has agreed to a meeting is a significant step forward,» Snodgrass said. «This is the first time the director of the museum has agreed to meet the chairman of the committee. In a sense, you could say it is the first proper meeting between the two sides in the history of the campaign. ” Greece, whose request for the fifth-century BC sculptures has repeatedly been turned down by the British government and museum officials, is hoping for a change of mind in London before the 2004 Athens Olympics – when a new museum should be ready to display them in.