Beijing: A key security bloc led by China and Russia on Thursday opposed military intervention or forced "regime change" in the volatile Middle East and appealed to the global community to respect the independent choice of the people in the region, ahead of crucial discussions on Syria at the UN.
Leaders of the member states of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) said in a joint declaration that they oppose armed intervention or forced "regime change" and disapprove of unilateral sanctions against countries.
The leaders expressed "deep concern over the situation in western Asia and northern Africa," said the declaration of the heads of state of the SCO member states issued at the end of their two-day summit here.
They urged the world community to respect the purposes of the UN Charter and norms of the international law as well as the independent choice of countries and peoples in the region, and work to ease tensions, according to the declaration.
The declaration, passed hours after the Syrian opposition blamed forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad`s regime of killing 100 people, said the member states underline that all acts of violence inside Syria must stop. They supported broad- based domestic dialogue that respects Syria`s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
Veto-wielding China and Russia had earlier reinforced their opposition to foreign intervention in Syria and urged support for UN envoy Kofi Annan`s peace plan.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Istanbul, said the latest violence in Syria was "unconscionable" and that President Bashar al-Assad must quit.
"The regime-sponsored violence that we witnessed in Hama yesterday is simply unconscionable," she said, seeking a ceasefire, transfer of power and formation of a representative interim government in Syria to solve the crisis.
Beijing currently holds the UN Security Council`s
rotating presidency, and Russia and China have long resisted pressure to remove Assad from power amid ongoing unrest.
The SCO member states said they welcome the UN Security Council`s support for political mediation efforts in solving the crisis and believe that a peaceful solution to the Syrian issue through political dialogue serves the common interests of the Syrian people and the international community.
The declaration came hours before Annan is scheduled to present his latest assessment of the Syrian conflict at an open meeting of the UN General Assembly.
The SCO was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, and currently has six full members -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its aim is to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security, and is widely viewed as a countermeasure to curb the influence of Western alliances such as NATO.