GREECE RENEWS DEMAND FOR PARTHENON MARBLES AT UNESCO CONFERENCE

ATHENS, Greece: Greece renewed its demand for the Parthenon Marbles on Monday at a gathering of world culture experts held at the foot of the Acropolis.

Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said Athens' long standing demand for the collection — also known as the Elgin Marbles — was gaining momentum.

"A new wind is blowing" regarding looted antiquities, Liapis told an international conference, organized by UNESCO, on the return of cultural goods to their countries of origin.

"This creates an ideal climate, a new momentum for us to seek means of communication with a view to achieve clear solutions on the matter," Liapis said.

The two-day event was held at a new Acropolis Museum, where Athens hopes to house the collection if it is returned by the British Museum in London.

The €129 million ($200 million) building designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi is set to open in September.

"I hope (displayed artifacts) will include the Parthenon Sculptures, following cooperation with the British Museum," Liapis said.

Until then, plaster copies of the 5th century B.C. sculptures will be used.

The British Museum says it will only consider a short-term loan — not necessarily involving its entire Parthenon collection.

Greece has recently stepped up efforts to reclaim allegedly plundered antiquities from museums and collections abroad.