Vietnam and China are negotiating an agreement on a legal framework for solving sea conflicts, an official said Thursdasy on the sidelines of a conference held in Hanoi to review the demarcation of the land border between the countries.
Ho Xuan Son, chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' National Border Committee, said he hopes that the two sides will sign the agreement this year.
Son said that the rules will be in accordance with international laws and treaties like the United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration of Conduct.
Vietnam and China will also agree to maintain peace and stability in the countries' relationship, he said.
However, he stressed that the sea border was a complicated issue that could not be solved soon. It took more than 30 years to resolve land border issues, he noted.
Son said that while finding long-lasting solutions, the two countries can cooperate in exploiting resources in disputed areas.
"The areas have to be those which are recognized as being in dispute by both sides; it's unacceptable to co-exploit areas under Vietnam's sovereignty," he stressed.
Vietnam's viewpoint is that disputed areas have to be outside the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ), he added.
Under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, every coastal country can establish an EEZ extending 200 nautical miles from shore. A state has the right to use resources in the EEZ and regulate the behavior of other states in that area.
Asked which area has been recognized as being in dispute, Son said this was still under discussion.