Vietnam, China defense ministers meet on ASEAN sidelines

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Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh met his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the 7th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Tuesday in Brunei.

The two countries should solve their disputes at sea through talks based on international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, he told Chang Wanquan.

They should strive to establish a Code of Conduct in the East Sea between ASEAN members and China, he said.

China and four ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are embroiled in sovereignty disputes over the resource-rich East Sea, also known as the South China Sea.

China claims most of the sea of 1.7 million square kilometers including Vietnam's Paracel (Hoang Sa) and Spratly (Truong Sa) Archipelagoes.

It has followed up with many actions to back its sovereignty claims over the archipelagoes, and Vietnam has repeatedly objected to them, warning that China is violating Vietnam's sovereignty over the archipelagoes.

Among the latest actions are the inauguration of a bookstore on Hoang Sa, taking tourists to the islands, and sending a massive fishing fleet last week to Truong Sa.

Vietnam has countered by holding an exhibition of old foreign maps and documents in the central city of Da Nang from April 29 to May 15 to prove Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belong to it.

Vietnam News Agency quoted Chang as saying that China and Vietnam are close neighbors and China appreciates the long relationship between the two nations, and would boost bilateral ties, including in defense.

Thanh said Vietnam too values its good, long-term neighborly relations with China, and strengthening cooperation, solidarity, and trust between them is an important factor in maintaining regional peace and stability.

The two sides have to continue with their defense dialogue and enhance exchanges and consultation to boost understanding and trust, he added.

The ADMM is an annual summit of defense ministers of the 10 ASEAN member states held to exchange views on regional defense and security issues and challenges.

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