Greece's decades-long campaign to repatriate the Parthenon Marbles received prominent support on Tuesday, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping saying he not only agrees with the return of the emblematic friezes to the country, "...but you will also have our backing".
The visiting Chinese head of state made the comment before numerous reporters and television cameras while being given a personal tour of the Acropolis Museum in central Athens. The state-of-the-art museum lies only a few hundred meters south of the actual Acropolis archaeological hill site and the Parthenon Temple on top - the quintessence of Classical Antiquity - where the sculpted marbles were sliced off in the early 19th century and taken by a rogue English diplomat, only to be subsequently purchased by the British Museum in London, where they remain on display today.
Xi's high-profile comment came as he stood before a display of Caryatids, columns sculpted in the female form, with the most prominent example being the Erechtheion Temple, also atop the Acropolis.
"... we also have many (artifacts) of Chinese civilization outside the country, and we are trying to return them home," Xi said, in turning to Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who accompanied him on the tour.