Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Shanghai group calls for talks on Syria

POWER BLOC:The Shanghai Cooperation Organization condemned intervention in Syria and warned that Iran and Afghanistan’s sovereignty must not be violated

Reuters, BEIJING

Chinese President Hu Jintao, center, poses with Kyrgyzstani President Almazbek Sharshenovich Atambayev, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, second right, and Tajikistani President Emomali Rakhmon, right, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit yesterday in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.

Photo: EPA

Leaders of a bloc grouping China, Russia and Central Asian states called yesterday for dialogue to address the violence in Syria, all but guaranteeing that there will be no end to the deadlock in discussions at the UN Security Council.

Russia and China — permanent members of the Security Council with the power to veto resolutions — have stymied efforts by Western powers to condemn or call for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-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 Organisation 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.”

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan was to brief the Security Council in New York yesterday and UN diplomats said they expected Annan to present a new proposal to rescue his failing peace plan.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping (程國平) said 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 (胡錦濤), have urged for international support for Annan’s peace plan, despite calls from other states for a tougher response.

The joint statement was issued on the last day of the two-day annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The six leaders also warned that “any attempts to solve the Iranian problem by force are not acceptable and lead to unpredictable consequences, threatening stability and security in the region and in the world as a whole.”

Iran is at the center of a standoff over its disputed nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its aim is energy production.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders called for settling “the Iran nuclear problem through political and diplomatic means.”

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday that China opposed any Middle East country acquiring nuclear weapons, Xinhua news agency reported.

The joint statement also said that “the national reconciliation in Afghanistan should happen under the leadership of Afghans and by Afghans themselves.”

Hu said in an interview with Chinese state media on Wednesday that then organization wants to play a bigger role in Afghanistan. The future of Afghanistan was one of the main issues at the meeting.

He added that the organization had agreed to allow Afghanistan in as an observer and Turkey as a dialogue partner.

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