THE Greek government has suggested Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to scrap talks with the country’s leader over a row about the Parthenon Marbles was politically motivated.

A spokesman for the Greek prime minister said there were “domestic reasons” for the cancellation of Tuesday’s meeting and pointed to Mr Sunak being “quite behind in the polls” ahead of a likely general election next year.

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Downing Street has denied the Greek claim.

It comes after No 10 said Sunak decided to ditch face-to-face talks with his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis after feeling he had rowed back on “reassurances” that he would avoid using his visit to the UK as a “public platform” to demand the return to Athens of the Parthenon Marbles.

Greece has denied they gave any "reassurances" to the UK that the Parthenon Sculptures would not be raised upon visiting the UK.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Sunak had become concerned that any bilateral conversation with Mr Mitsotakis would be “dominated” by the issue of the ancient artefacts following comments made by the Greek leader in an interview on Sunday.

Mitsotakis said in a recent interview that the current situation with the marbles was akin to the Mona Lisa painting being cut in half.

Greece has long demanded the return of the historic works, which were removed by Lord Elgin from Athens in the early nineteenth century when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

Elgin stole the marbles, that is it

Greek minister Adonis Georgiadis said Sunak had made a “bad choice” in scrapping the bilateral meeting.

Georgiadis said Mitsotakis, in his interview arguing for the return of the marbles, had been expressing the view of the Greek people.

“Elgin stole the marbles, that is it,” he added.

Part of friezes that adorned the 2500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, the Parthenon Marbles have been displayed at the British Museum in London for more than 200 years.

The remainder of the friezes are in a purpose-built museum in Athens.