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Connery call for Marbles return to Greece

ATHENS, Greece -- Visiting Greece for the first time, Sir Sean Connery has called for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their "rightful place" in time for the 2004 Olympic Games.

During his visit, the distinguished actor discussed the issue of the Marbles -- known in Britain as the Elgin marbles -- with the Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

He told Venizelos he was "confident that the British government will change its position" and the minister thanked Connery for his efforts on the matter.

On what is to Greeks the sacred rock of Acropolis the Scottish Nationalist-supporting actor spoke to journalists about the importance of the return of the Marbles to their homeland.

"They had them for two centuries," Connery said referring to the British government "and should return them."

"The return of the Marbles should be the goal of all the countries that will participate in the Olympic Games. So by the time the Games are here, they will be in their rightful place." Europe
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Connery visited the Acropolis accompanied by director Jules Dassin and Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanasiou.

There Connery, according to his press officer Mrs Loula Loi Alafogiannis, raised his hands and said: "Oh God. What a place. Why did I come so late."

After their visit to the Acropolis, the two others were treated to a morning coffee at Papathanasiou's home.

The three friends later visited the ancient theatre of Dionysus, where Connery posed repeatedly for the photographers as an ancient Greek, as if he were preparing for his upcoming role as Socrates.

The purpose of his visit was to support his wife's -- Micheline's -- painting exhibition, opened at Marilenas Mamidakis 'Athinais' multi-purpose art space amidst journalists, VIPs and fans of the artist's famous husband.

Connery himself is portrayed in two of Micheline's 27 works.

Two thousand people queued outside for the opening ceremony to see Connery.

Alafogiannins said: "It was fascinating. They were waiting in the cold queuing in the rain. They thought they were seeing a god, a myth."

The next day Connery was surrounded by hordes of children at the Pieridis art gallery.

He stood among them and asked them if they knew who he was -- they answered: "James Bond."

He talked with a 13-year-old girl fan who told him she had seen every Connery Bond film.

Later Connery and his wife dined with friends at a local restaurant where the owner presented him with a huge sea shell and he said that he would take it with him, fill it with water and think of Greece.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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