SCO, US clash on Syria
Published Thursday, June 7, 2012
Leaders of a bloc grouping China, Russia and Central Asian states called on Thursday for dialogue to address the violence in Syria, reiterating their stance against military intervention.
Russia and China – permanent members of the UN Security Council with the power to veto resolutions – have stymied efforts by Western powers to call for the removal of President Bashar Assad, whose forces, the UN says, have killed at least 10,000 people in more than a year of unrest.
"The Shanghai group member states are against military interference in the affairs of this region (Middle East and North Africa), enforced 'handover of power', unilateral sanctions," a joint statement from leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization 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."
At a separate gathering in Istanbul of Western and Gulf Arab states, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that a transition strategy in Syria must include Assad's full transfer of power, a senior US State Department official said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the official said Clinton had also told the group that transition in Syria must include a fully representative interim government that would lead to free and fair elections.
France also announced at the meeting it would hold a full "Friends of Syria" meeting in Paris on July 6, the official said. Russia has criticized the grouping as counter productive, and has instead called for a new international meeting that "honestly" deals with the Syrian crisis.
Russia sees Western and Gulf Arab backing for the Syrian National Council and their insistence that Assad resign as undermining peace efforts.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is to brief the Security Council in New York on Thursday.
UN diplomats said they expected Annan to present a new proposal to rescue his failing peace plan by creating a "contact group" of world and regional powers.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said on Thursday that both China and Russia would remain opposed to foreign intervention.
"The Syrian issue should be resolved based on envoy Annan's six-point proposal within the UN framework," Cheng told a news conference. "You can't say that because you dislike a country's system, you can then think of ways to overturn its government."
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, have urged international support for Annan's peace plan, despite calls from Arab and Western states for a tougher response.