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BRICS powers criticise Western strikes in Libya - source

SANYA, China (Reuters) - Leaders from the five “BRICS” emerging powers joined in criticising the Western air campaign in Libya, a government source at the summit said on Thursday, when Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in southern China.

(From L) India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia's President Dimitry Medvedev, China's President Hu Jintao, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma pose for a group photo during the BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya, Hainan province April 14, 2011. REUTERS/Nelson Ching/Pool

“They all condemned the bombings,” said a government source who participated in the meeting of the BRICS country leaders. The source said the leaders voiced concern about the effects of the air strikes on Libyan civilians.

The source spoke on condition that his country not be identified.

He said that South Africa, which voted for the United Nations Security Council resolution authorising the “no fly” zone over Libya was among the countries that joined in the criticism.

Western warplanes began striking Libya last month, but embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi has refused to yield to calls from rebel groups and other governments for him to step down, and his forces remain locked in combat with the rebels.

The comment came ahead of a final statement from the summit of the five big emerging powers, which will reject the use of force in the Middle East and North Africa at a summit on Thursday, urging instead dialogue and non-intervention, according to a draft statement.

In the context of the Middle East and Northern Africa, specifically Libya, the BRICS “share the principle that the use of force must be avoided”, according to the draft statement, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

China, Russia, India, Brazil and other developing countries have condemned the U.S.-led air strikes on Libyan forces.

South Africa, on the other hand, voted in favour of the United Nations Security Council resolution authorising the strikes. But during a visit to Tripoli on Sunday, South African President Jacob Zuma called for NATO to stop air strikes.

The BRICS summit, in the southern Chinese resort of Sanya, has also given the world’s big rising economies a venue to coordinate views on global financial reforms, commodity prices and other shared concerns.

Reporting by Ray Colitt; Editing by Ron Popeski