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Russia, China warn West against Arab interference

June 17, 2011 11:00 A.M. (Updated: June 18, 2011 9:43 A.M.)
MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) -- Russia and China oppose outside interference in the unrest in the Arab world, the two presidents said on Thursday in a declaration, as the West seeks their support for increasing pressure on Syria.

"The sides believe that the search for settling the situation in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa should take place in the legal field and through political means," said the declaration signed by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao.

"Outside forces should not interfere in internal processes in the countries of the region."

Rather, the conflicts should be solved by "launching broad national dialogue about rebuilding stability and social order and the promotion of democratic and economic reforms," the statement said.

The two presidents also expressed concern over the situation in Libya, calling for an end to hostilities between the forces of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and the rebels.

Russia has said it opposes the UN Security Council adopting any resolution on Syria, risking a major dispute with the West over the response to the crackdown on Syrian protesters.

China has backed Russia's cautious stance although, as is customary, it has allowed its fellow permanent UN Security Council member to do most of the public talking on the issue.

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich confirmed in Moscow that Russia "as before" was opposed to a UN Security Council resolution on Syria.

"This position, as you know, has been set by the president and it remains unchanged," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Once bitter foes during the Cold War, Moscow and Beijing have over the past years ramped up political cooperation as both are driven by a desire to counterbalance US global dominance.

Speaking through a translator, Hu said at the Kremlin that Russia and China should expand their "strategic cooperation" including within multilateral structures like the UN and the Group of Twenty developed and developing economies.

Joint work should also be ramped up within regional groupings like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in order to "support peace, security and stability on the planet and facilitate the formation of a multilateral world and the democratization of international relations," Hu said.

In their joint declaration, the two countries also said they would also seek to intensify cooperation with major regional player India.
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