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Oscar-winning actor George Clooney wins Greece invite after backing return of Elgin Marbles
US actor George Clooney poses for a photocall ahead of the UK Premiere of the film 'The Monuments Men' in central London, on February 11, 2014. The film is expected to be released in Britain on February 14, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW COWIE.
ATHENS (AFP).- Cheering headlines in the Greek press and an invitation to visit the Mediterranean country were certainly not what Oscar-winning actor and director George Clooney expected when he answered a journalist's question about a return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum to Greece.

Clooney was presenting his wartime drama "The Monuments Men" at the Berlin film festival Saturday -- about a real-life group of art experts who go behind enemy lines to rescue art stolen by the Nazis in World War II -- when a Greek journalist asked him if Greek antiquities on show in foreign museums should be repatriated.

Greece has been battling for decades to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, from Britain.

"Yes, this would be a good idea, the law is on your side," Greek media quoted him as responding.

With less than 15 words the Hollywood star triggered praise on front pages across Greece.

In a letter, made available to the press, the culture ministry invited Clooney to visit Greece.

"On behalf of all Greeks, I warmly thank you for your statement," Culture Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos wrote.

"I hope you will accept this invitation to visit Greece for a couple of days; to see many Greek antiquities kept under the Mediterranean sun, and of course to visit the new Acropolis museum, facing the sacred rock, where a space is reserved for the return of the Parthenon Marbles that are in involuntary exile."

The marbles were removed from the Acropolis in the early 19th century and taken to Britain where they were bought by the government before going on display at the British Museum.

The British Museum has argued the objects are part of world heritage and are more accessible to visitors in London.



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