Rishi Sunak has said there are “no plans” to change a law which blocks the Elgin Marbles from being given to Greece.
The Prime Minister said the UK had “cared for” the sculptures in the British Museum for generations and they were “shared with the world” at the London site.
Athens has long demanded the return of the Parthenon Sculptures, which were removed from Greece by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
Speaking to reporters during a trip to San Diego in the US, Sunak said: “The UK has cared for the Elgin Marbles for generations.
“Our galleries and museums are funded by taxpayers because they are a huge asset to this country.
“We share their treasures with the world, and the world comes to the UK to see them.
“The collection of the British Museum is protected by law, and we have no plans to change it.”
British Museum chairman George Osborne, the former chancellor, has said he is exploring ways for the Elgin Marbles to be displayed in Greece.
But while decisions about the care and management of specific collections are a matter for the museum and its trustees, the Government has made clear that long-term loans would not be within the spirit of its position.
The 1963 British Museum Act prevents the institution giving away objects from its collection except in very limited circumstances.