Diplomats representing ancient civilizations have met in the Greek capital for the first time as part of a new 10-member international club.

The Ancient Civilizations Forum held its inaugural session in Athens on Monday, attended by foreign ministers or senior diplomats from China, India, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told attendees that their cultures share a heritage of "positive power, the strength of knowledge, education (and) progress." He voiced hopes that the 10 countries could benefit from cooperation in areas ranging from the economy to culture.

The new club is defined by history, rather than geography or clout, with each of its members having been a top global player at some — often distant — point in the past 4,000 years.