China, Vietnam leaders reach South China Sea consensus

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disembarks from the cockpit of a Cessna-208B Grand Caravan Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft in Manila

"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 worldwide law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea", he said.

In a joint news conference, Quang said he had "shared my thoughts with (Trump) on the recent developments in this area and it is our policy to settle disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations, and with respect for diplomatic and legal process in accordance with worldwide law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea".

The Philippines had been the most vigorous critic of Chinese territorial claims, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has recently dialed back his country's objections, leaving Vietnam as the leading critic.

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said Sunday that his country wants to end disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful means.

Mr Trump arrived in Hanoi to begin meetings, before flying to the Philippines to begin the ASEAN meeting and East Asia Summit. "I'm a very good mediator and arbitrator".

"We should know what is the conduct that they would like to be", said Duterte.

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The Chinese leader, however, would not back down on Beijing's territorial claim, Mr Duterte said. But economic prospects compel both sides to resolve their differences.

Trump said in Vietnam on November 12 before leaving to attend a summit of Asian leaders in the Philippines.

Briefing reporters in Beijing during the China leg of Trump's Asia tour, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US view on the maritime dispute hadn't changed - that "claimants should stop construction and militarization" of disputed islands.

Since Trump took office, priorities in the region lie elsewhere, with USA focus largely on containing the North Korean threat.

The long-simmering disputes are one issue where the two major powers' influence, focus and military might have been gauged, with the USA and China both calling for a peaceful resolution but taking contrasting positions in most other aspects of the conflict.

Those islands are capable of serving as military bases, and some of the rival claimants are concerned that China will soon establish de facto control of the waters. The Hague rejected China's territorial claim to the maritime area in 2016 and found in favour of the Philippines, but China rejected the ruling.

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