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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cancelled a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis 特快资讯on Tuesday. The British side said that the two sides had previously agreed that the talks should not be used to solve long-standing disputes.
Greece has repeatedly called for the British Museum to permanently return the 2,500-year-old marble sculpture removed from the Parthenon by British diplomat Lord Elgin in 1806. Greece was then ruled by Ottoman Turkey.
At present, half of the 160-meter-long lintel used to decorate the temple is in London, and the other 50 meters are kept in Athens Museum.
In an interview with BBC Radio over the weekend, Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis compared the division of sculpture to the Mona Lisa painting being cut in half. The British side rejected such a description.
A spokesman for the Greek government said that Greece's position on the temple statue is well known, but there are differences on some issues, which does not mean that the two sides cannot talk.
Both Britain and Greece said that the cancellation of the talks made it impossible for them to discuss global issues, including the Gaza War, the Ukrainian War, climate issues, and immigration between Britain and Greece.
The Greek government accused the cancellation of the meeting of being rude.
Sunak's decision to cancel the talks was also criticized by the British opposition party and some campaign groups. Ed Vaizey, former British Minister of Culture, said that Britain's previous position was that solving the temple problem was a matter for the British Museum, and Sunak's action was a distortion. He did not need to push himself to the front line, which did not help improve the relationship between Britain and Greece.
When asked that if an agreement is reached to return the marble sculpture, other countries may also seek to return other objects at the same time, the Prime Minister's spokesman said, this will indeed create a tilt, and we will not support this practice.