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BRICS leaders (L-R) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma, pose for a group photo for the BRICS summit meeting in Sanya, Hainan province, on April 14, 2011. Leaders of five of the world's major emerging economies kicked off a summit in southern China on April 14 that will see them push for developing nations to have greater international influence. – Photo by AFP

SANYA: The leaders of the world's top emerging BRICS powers said Thursday the use of force “should be avoided” in Libya and across the Arab world, according to a draft statement obtained by AFP.

“We share the principle that the use of force should be avoided,” said the statement by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, released as they met in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan.

South Africa was the only BRICS nation to approve a UN Security Council resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorising “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, opening the door to coalition air strikes.

The other four countries have expressed concern that the Nato-led campaign -- which aims to thwart Muammer Qadhafi's assault on rebels seeking to end his 41-year rule -- is causing civilian casualties.

The statement, however, did not specifically single out the Nato campaign.

“We wish to continue our cooperation in the UN Security Council on Libya,” the statement said.

It added that BRICS leaders meeting in the resort city of Sanya also supported the African Union's mediating initiative to end hostilities in the war-torn country.

“We are of the view that all the parties should resolve their differences through peaceful means and dialogue in which the UN and regional organisations should as appropriate play their role,” the joint statement said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South Africa's Jacob Zuma gathered for the talks on Thursday.

It marked the third annual meeting for the leaders of China, India, Russia and Brazil and the first in the expanded that included South Africa.

Together, the five countries represent more than 40 percent of the world's population, and their combined GDP accounted for 18 percent of the global total in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund. – AFP