Greece has rejected an offer from the British Museum to return a section of the Parthenon Marbles on a three-month loan, the Greek culture minister said.

Antonis Samaras said the deal would have meant renouncing any Greek claim to the 2,500-year-old sculptures, which have been in London for nearly two centuries.

Greece hopes one day to display the British Museum's Parthenon collection beside its own surviving sections in a new museum that will open next weekend.

In a statement Thursday, Samaras said he was prepared to discuss lending Greek antiquities to the British Museum, "to fill the gap left when the [Parthenon] Marbles finally return to the place they belong."

The works originally decorated the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis of Athens.