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Acropolis museum to be ready by mid-2007, boosting claims for Parthenon Marbles

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The new Acropolis Museum will be completed by mid-2007, increasing pressure on London's British Museum to return elements of the 2,500-year-old temple, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Monday.

"Work on the new museum is in the final stretch... construction will be complete in the first six months of 2007," Karamanlis said during a visit to the site.

"With the museum's completion, Greece gains a very strong argument for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles," the Greek PM added, referring to the collection of sculpted friezes currently held at the British Museum in London.

Depicting gods, men and monsters, the sculptures were removed from the Parthenon by agents of British ambassador Lord Elgin in 1806-11, at a time when Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire.

Greece has demanded their return for 20 years, complaining that the works -- masterpieces executed at the height of the Greek classical period -- were illegally removed and are part of its national heritage.



AFP 091116 GMT 10 06

COPYRIGHT 2006 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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