However, speaking to reporters en route to the Cop28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates, Sunak said: "When it comes to them our position is very clear as a matter of law the marbles can’t be returned and we’ve been unequivocal about that.
The Greek Prime Minister wants the Elgin Marbles backPA
Osborne told The Times the negotiations would continue "whether or not Rishi Sunak meets the Greek Prime Minister” after a meeting between the pair was cancelled just hours before it was due to take place.
Mitsotakis snubbed a proposed alternative meeting with Deputy PM Oliver Dowden and said he was "deeply disappointed" by Sunak’s abrupt cancellation.
However, Keir Starmer successfully met with Mitsotakis on Monday, with Osborne claiming an exchange could happen under a Labour Government.
A spokesperson for Starmer said the Labour leader would "not spend any time legislating on this matter" if he became PM but that he "wouldn’t stand in the way" of a deal between the British Museum and Athens.
A diplomatic row broke out this week when Sunak cancelled a meeting with the Greek prime minister after he raised the issue of the marbles in a television minister
Speaking on his podcast Political Currency with co-host Ed Balls, Osborne said his deal with Greece would allow the sculptures to spend time in both London and Athens with the intention of allowing "Greek treasures coming our way in return".
"And that is, I think, something worth exploring," Osborne said, "and we can go on doing it whether or not Rishi Sunak meets the Greek prime minister or not.
"In fact, if anything, things have been rather clarified by this week. We obviously know we’re not going to get any particular support from the Conservative government.
"But in fact the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, also said that while he supported the British Museum’s efforts, he wasn’t planning to change the law.
"And if you don’t change the law, then there is no prospect anytime soon of them just being restituted to Greece, returned with nothing, simply handed back, which anyway wouldn’t be a decision for the museum.
"And so to my mind, as chair of the British Museum, it is all the more reason to press on with our efforts to try and reach an agreement with the Greeks."