CHINA- Leaders of a bloc grouping China, Russia and Central Asian states called on Thursday for dialogue to address the violence in Syria.
A regional group led by Russia and China said Thursday it opposed military intervention in the Middle East.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) statement called for a "peaceful resolution of the Syrian problem through political dialogue", adding the use of force against Iran was "unacceptable”.
The SCO statement also expressed "serious concern about the situation around Iran", which is an observer nation to the organization that groups together China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
"Member states are against military intervention into this region's affairs, forcing a 'handover of power' or using unilateral sanctions," said the declaration, issued at the end of a summit in Beijing attended by the leaders of Russia, China and Iran, among others.
The SCO statement was a likely indicator that little will change at discussions at the United Nations on the crisis.
"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 SCO said.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping repeatedly stressed that Beijing and Moscow both oppose what he called "neo-interventionism" in Syria and other countries.
Cheng told reporters that, despite the Houla deaths, "we still believe that this is an internal matter for Syria". He did not refer to the latest massacre accusations.
China and Russia agreed that "the Syrian issue should be resolved based on envoy Annan's six-point proposal within the U.N. framework", Cheng said.
"You can't say that because you dislike a country's system, you can then think of ways to overturn its government," he said.
In turn, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a briefing China welcomed Russia's plan for an expanded meeting on Syria, including Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov floated the idea on Wednesday in what could be the first step towards the creation of Annan's contact group.
On Wednesday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Beijing was against any Middle Eastern country seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
"China opposes any Middle East country's push to acquire nuclear weapons and upholds that the Iranian nuclear issue should be addressed through diplomatic channels in an impartial way," Wen said.
Reegarding Iran, the SCO statement said "Any attempts to solve the Iranian problem with force are unacceptable and could lead to unpredictable circumstances that threaten stability and security in the region and the entire world,"
The West believes Iran is trying to develop an atomic bomb under cover of a civilian program, but Tehran insists its intentions are purely peaceful and the situation has brought about a shaky standoff.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin was due to meet Ahmadinejad later Thursday on the sidelines of the Beijing summit as Moscow prepares to host more talks later this month aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to the Iranian dispute.
Moscow and Beijing have consistently opposed international intervention in Syria, but they face growing pressure to change their stance after 15 months of conflict.
Russia and China have vetoed two Security Council resolutions against Assad's regime, but backed UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's blueprint to end the conflict.
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.
The Annan plan was supposed to begin with a ceasefire from April 12, but doubts have emerged about its effectiveness as violence has raged on despite the deployment of nearly 300 UN observers.
Russia and China - permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with the power to veto resolutions - have stymied efforts by Western powers to condemn or call for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces, the U.N. says, have killed at least 10,000 people in more than a year of unrest.
Despite widespread international condemnation of its actions, Syria's government has survived through a combination of brutal repression and the political backing of Moscow.