NEWS

In pursuit of Marbles, minister sees BM chief

A first day of intense Greek lobbying in London for the return of the Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon produced no tangible sign that the British Museum was any closer to sending the fifth-century BC works back to Athens. Officials at the Bloomsbury-based museum denied reports that a change of stance might be on the cards, due to the British Museum’s current financial predicament. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday met the new museum director, Neil MacGregor, but refused to say what reception his proposal for a long-term loan of the Marbles to Athens – in return for rotating exhibitions of Greek antiquities in London – had met with. «The matter was not resolved,» he said, but claimed stronger pressure – last month, PM Costas Simitis raised the issue with Tony Blair – and the loan argument «is beginning to bear fruit.» Today, Venizelos will meet his UK counterpart, Tessa Jowell.