Leaders of a regional security bloc led by China and Russia wrapped up their annual summit in Beijing Thursday by voicing opposition to outside intervention in the Middle East.
At the end of the two-day meeting, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization released a statement saying it is also against “forcing a handover of power or using unilateral sanctions” in the region, in reference to Syria and Iran.
The group said it favors a “peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis through political dialogue.”
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said that “Beijing firmly opposes military intervention in Syria because such a method cannot fundamentally solve the crisis.” He expressed hope that “all parties in Syria will concretely implement their commitment of cease-fire and cessation of violence.” He added that “Damascus should also shoulder its responsibility and the same is true for the opposition groups.”
The SCO statement came amid new accusations of another brutal massacre in Syria in which forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad reportedly killed at least 78 people Wednesday.
China and Russia have both vetoed two U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Mr. Assad for the 15 month-old conflict in his country. They are also skeptical of new Western sanctions against Iran's controversial nuclear program.
The six-member regional grouping granted observer status to Afghanistan, in an attempt to boost its influence in the war-torn nation ahead of a pullout by foreign troops in 2014. India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan also have observer status, which allows them to take part in sideline consultations during SCO meetings.
The SCO also recommitted itself to closer security and economic ties and to combating drug trafficking, extremism and terrorism.
Underscoring China's growing economic dominance in Central Asia, President Hu Jintao pledged to provide $10 billion to support economic development and cooperation among SCO states.
The grouping was established in 2001, in part to curb the influence of the Western military alliance NATO. But the often fractured grouping has since expanded its goals to include wider economic cooperation.