The unrest in Syria should not be on the agenda at the upcoming G20 Summit in Mexico because the meeting needs to stay focused on global economic issues, including the European debt crisis, a top Chinese diplomat has said.
Syrian activists estimate more than 13,000 people have died since an uprising erupted 15 months ago. For months, the US and its European allies have tried unsuccessfully to take UN action against Syria, but Russia and China, Syria's main allies, have vetoed two Security Council resolutions that threatened possible sanctions.
Russia and China issued a joint statement after a summit in Beijing last week, saying they also opposed any outside military interference or forceful imposition of "regime change" in Syria.
China's vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai told reporters that although there is intense global concern about the crisis in Syria, the G20 Summit is not the appropriate place to discuss it.
"The situation in Syria is of concern to everyone globally, however the G20 is a platform for global economic governance and so far we have not seen political and security issues on the agenda of the G20," said Mr Cui. "I think that is the proper arrangement."
Mr Cui also said Beijing will use the summit to press the interests of developing countries like itself but acknowledged American and European financial problems, such as the EU debt crisis, inevitably dominate discussions at G20 meetings because of the size and influence of their economies.
Mr Cui said China believes "more attention should be paid to the needs of developing countries" and will continue to press those concerns this year.
But he added: "The international community has a keen interest in whether developed countries will resolve their problems in a responsible way and in turn improve the economic outlook of the world."