The Greek government has launched a new bid to engage the UK in talks over the return to Athens of the Elgin Marbles.

Greece’s culture minister has written her to British counterpart to formally propose negotiations on the future of the celebrated ancient sculptures originally ornamenting the Parthenon Temple at the Acropolis.

A ministry statement said Lydia Koniordou invited British officials to Greece to discuss the Marbles, also known as the Parthenon Sculptures.

The case of the 5th century BC works in London’s British Museum is one of the longest-running cultural heritage disputes in the world.

The works were removed by a Scottish nobleman – Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin – in the early 19th century when Athens was under Turkish rule.

Greece wants them back, which Britain has consistently refused to do.