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China, Russia United Against Intervention in Syria


China's President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands in Beijing, June 5, 2012.

China's President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands in Beijing, June 5, 2012.

BATUMI, Georgia - China and Russia say they are united in opposing foreign intervention in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to meet with allies Wednesday in Turkey to discuss how best to pursue a political transition to end President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Secretary of State Clinton says it is "pretty clear" that the main focus of international diplomacy must be on intensifying efforts to speed a political transition in Syria.

"We believe there is a way forward and we are going to continue to pursue that and we invite the Russians and the Chinese to be part of the solution of what is happening in Syria," she said.

But China and Russia remain opposed to any effort to force Syria's President Bashar al-Assad from power, a position their leaders re-stated again on Tuesday.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman says Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin oppose a change of power by force in Syria and continue to call for a political dialogue between President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents.

President Putin and President Hu met in Beijing, where they repeated demands for an immediate end to 15 months of violence in Syria. Russia and China, however, have repeatedly blocked tougher U.N. action against President Assad, including U.N. sanctions and the potential use of force.

Clinton spoke to reporters Tuesday in the Black Sea port of Batumi, following talks with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. She says the violence of the past 10 days shows that there must be change in Syria. "Peace and human dignity will not be possible in Syria without political change. So I will look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues tomorrow in Istanbul," she said.

Clinton meets Wednesday in Istanbul with diplomats from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates to discuss how best to pursue a political transition in Syria.

The U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, is to brief U.N. members Thursday in New York before meeting Friday with Secretary Clinton in Washington.

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