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Amal Clooney is no longer advising the Greek government on how to get the Elgin Marbles returned to Athens after officials decided to drop their legal fight.

The British barrister was hired by Greece to advise the state ahead of a possible court case aimed at forcing the British Museum to give up the sculptures, which originally came from the Parthenon temple.

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Greece has ruled out taking legal action against the UK to reclaim the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

In an unexpected move, Greece's culture minister said the country would pursue a "diplomatic and political" approach to retrieving the sculptures instead.

In doing so, the country has rejected the advice of barrister Amal Clooney, who had urged Greece to take Britain to the International Court of Justice.

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The British Museum is considering three further overseas loans from the Elgin Marbles – but a reluctance to entertain the sculptures’ return to Greece is set to provoke renewed anger in Athens.

Last year the British Museum allowed part of the Marbles to leave the country for the first time when it lent the headless statue of Ilissos, a Greek river god, to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

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Only a quarter of Britons believe that the Elgin Marbles, the ancient sculptures that once decorated the Parthenon temple in Athens, should remain in London's British Museum, according to a poll published Tuesday.

Half of the respondents to the YouGov survey published in the "Times" said the artifacts, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, should be returned to Greece, with a quarter undecided.

But a slim majority backed the museum's controversial decision to loan the works, which were taken from the Parthenon by British diplomat Lord Elgin in 1803, to Russia's State Hermitage Museum.

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The director of the British Museum has said it is already in talks to loan more Elgin Marbles to foreign museums.

Neil MacGregor told "The Telegraph" that the negotiations would continue despite the angry reaction from the government of Greece this week when it emerged that the museum was lending one of the Marbles – a headless statue of the river god, Ilissos – to the State Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia.

"A number of other people, other institutions abroad have suggested that they are very interested [in borrowing Marbles]," said Mr MacGregor. "A couple of other conversations are in train."

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Part of the Elgin Marbles has left Britain for the first time since they were taken from the Parthenon in 1803, on loan to a Russian museum, the British Museum said on Friday.

The museum has loaned one of the statues -- taken from Greece by British diplomat Lord Elgin and which Athens has repeatedly demanded be returned -- to Russia's State Hermitage Museum.

The sculpture of the Greek river god Ilissos, a reclining male figure, will be displayed in the St. Petersburg museum from this Saturday until January 18 to celebrate the museum's 250th anniversary.

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A leading Oxford historian has warned that the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens would “ruin” major museums.

Sir John Boardman, emeritus Oxford professor of classical archaeology and art, said the move would set an “appalling precedent,” resulting in museums worldwide having to give up artifacts they had held for decades.

His intervention came after it emerged that the Greek government has enlisted the help of two prominent human rights barristers to provide advice on securing the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

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