China has begun a new round of engagement with West Asia and Africa with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao embarking on a visit to Egypt where he will also participate in a key meeting of the China-Africa cooperation forum.

In his address at the Arab League headquarters on Saturday, Mr. Wen stressed intensifying a dialogue among civilisations based on mutual respect and vigorous interaction.

“There exist diverse civilisations in the world, just like the existence of diverse species in the nature,” Xinhua quoted Mr. Wen saying. However, he emphasised that there did not exist a hierarchy among civilisations. “Speaking of respecting diversity of civilisations, we must recognise that diversity of civilisations is largely reflected in ethnic and religious diversity,” he added.

During talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Nazef, Mr. Wen spoke about enhancing Chinese investments in what is called the China-Egypt Suez economic and trade cooperation zone project. Energy tie ups and infrastructure development in the areas of transport and communication were also identified as priority areas. The two sides decided to look at ways of enhancing trade despite the impediments.

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