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Chinese President Xi makes state visit to Vietnam

AP  |  Hanoi 

Vietnam gave Chinese President Xi Jinping the red carpet treatment today at the start of a state visit, as the two communist neighbors try to broaden their economic ties and work on resolving territorial disputes in the South Sea. Xi and Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party, reviewed an honor guard and headed for talks behind closed doors. It was Xi's first overseas trip since consolidating his power at a party last month. Xi and US President Donald Trump, among others, just finished an Asia-Pacific economic summit in the Vietnamese coastal city of Danang. Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said that his country wants to end disputes in the South Sea through peaceful means. "It's our policy to settle disputes in the East Sea through peaceful negotiations and with respect for diplomatic and legal process in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the of the Sea," he said, referring to the South Sea. Quang made the comments today during a joint conference with Trump.

Trump had offered during a meeting earlier today with Quang to serve as a mediator on the South Sea disputes. Vietnam and China, along with four other governments, claim all or parts of the South Sea, which is believed to sit atop rich natural resources and occupies one of the world's busiest sea lanes. in recent years has built artificial islands and increased its militarization there, drawing criticism from Washington, which argues that the US has a national interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade. Vietnam has become the most vocal opponent of China's moves after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte softened his country's stance on Tran Viet Thai of the Vietnam Diplomatic Academy said Xi's visit is important to build mutual trust. "The visit marks a new step forward in Vietnam- relations," he said. "Hopefully the relations will continue to stabilize, because the two sides currently share great interests in broadening their cooperation and maintaining stability." Bilateral relations plunged to their lowest level in years when in 2014 parked a giant oil rig in an area claimed by Vietnam. The incident sparked deadly anti- protests for several weeks. The two communist neighbors have in recent months experienced spats over the South Sea. In July, Vietnam had to suspend an oil and gas exploration project conducted by Spain's Repsol company, under apparent pressure from In September, Vietnam protested live-fire drills by near the Paracel islands.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, November 12 2017. 18:22 IST