Vietnam and China promise to keep talking as they look to settle differences over South China Sea

China and Vietnam said that they would continue to look for ways to peacefully resolve their conflict over the South China Sea at the end of a three-day meeting to discuss border issues.

A statement from the Chinese foreign ministry on Friday said the vice-ministerial level talks had discussed border cooperation on land and, more sensitively, maritime issues.

The two sides had agreed to “further step up dialogue and consultations to properly manage disputes” in the South China Sea while pushing forward cooperation in areas such as maritime search and rescue, scientific research, environmental protection and law enforcement.

The Vietnamese foreign ministry meanwhile said that the two sides had agreed to “resolve conflicts in an appropriate and peaceful manner” but officials from both countries stopped short of saying that the tension has ended, according to VnExpress, a Vietnamese news portal.

“The two sides agreed to maintain mechanisms to discuss sea-related issues and to cooperate with each other in organising activities to celebrate the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations next year,” the Vietnamese statement said.

Vietnamese deputy foreign minister Le Hoai Trung, who led the Vietnamese delegation, met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and deputy foreign ministers Luo Zhaohui and Ma Zhaoxu, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

The visit by Trung came as tensions between Beijing and Hanoi started to ease after a months-long stand-off between coastguard vessels near the resource-rich Vanguard Bank after the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 made multiple passes near an oil exploration block operated by Russian oil company Rosneft.

While the Chinese ship left the waters late last month, the latest stand-off has drawn attention to oil exploration in the disputed waters.

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