The leaders of China and Russia have rejected military intervention to stop the violence between government forces and rebels in Syria. The statement comes a day after reports of a massacre by forces loyal to the regime.
Leaders of a regional grouping of Central Asian states, including China and Russia, on Thursday called for dialogue to put an end to the violence in Syria. Their statement implies that Beijing and Moscow will block any moves toward military intervention within the UN Security Council, where they have the power to veto action.
"The Shanghai group member states are against military interference in the affairs of this region [the Middle East and North Africa], enforced 'handover of power,' unilateral sanctions," a joint statement from leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) said. "Member states stress the need to stop any violence on the territory of Syria wherever it is coming from; they respect broad nationwide dialogue, based on independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria."
The six members of the SCO, which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, were meeting in Beijing.
US urges Assad to step aside
Syrian activists said on Wednesday that troops loyal to the regime had killed dozens of people, including women and children, in Mazraat al-Qubair in the central Hama province. The exact circumstances and death toll remain unclear.
The Syrian government has since denied the claims as "absolutely baseless," while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Assad should hand over power and leave Syria.
"The regime-sponsored violence that we witnessed in Hama yesterday is simply unconscionable," she said at a news conference on Thursday.
ncy/tj (Reuters, AP, AFP)