01:35 - Source: CNN
Syria struggles to find peace

Story highlights

Russia and China display a united front on Syria and Iran

The two major powers and their regional partners oppose military intervention

The stance opposes Western ideas of tougher measures

Beijing, China CNN  — 

The heads of state of Russia, China and four Central Asian partner nations signed a statement Thursday opposing outside intervention in Syria and Iran.

“We believe any attempts to resolve the Iranian issue by force are unacceptable,” the statement from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization read. “Such attempts could lead to unpredictably serious consequences, which would threaten stability and security in the region and the entire world.”

The heads of state of the other member nations, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who attended the meeting hosted in Beijing, also signed the statement.

On Syria, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization statement was less blunt, calling for “dialogues that respect Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

But on Wednesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao had stronger words about Syria, once more presenting a united front on the crisis that stands in opposition to tough measures discussed by Western powers.

“Both sides firmly oppose any attempt to resolve the Syrian crisis through foreign military intervention as well as promoting forced ‘regime change’ at the U.N. Security Council and other venues,” the two presidents said.

Instead, they reiterated support for the mediation efforts of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan and called on all parties in the conflict to stop violence and engage in dialogue.

As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia have veto powers and are important players in the Syrian conflict, having vetoed draft resolutions that called for sanctions against the Syrian regime.

In February, they vetoed a draft resolution calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down, claiming it lacked balance. And last Friday, they both vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning last month’s massacre in Houla.

The vetoes drew criticism from the Syrian opposition and Western powers.

Pressure has been mounting on China and Russia to use their influence on Syria and join efforts led by the United States to impose more sanctions on the al-Assad government and force it to step down.

Last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urged China and Russia to be “part of the solution in Syria” by backing a political transition from the al-Assad regime.

Based on the tone of the joint statement, observers say it seems unlikely that China and Russia are going to change their positions on Syria anytime soon.

This year, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization granted Afghanistan “observer status” in its organization. In its closing statement, it called for the country to become “an independent, neutral, peaceful and prosperous nation.”