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South China Sea: Vietnam sees greater Indian role

China is involved in long-running disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines about ownership of the South China Sea.

Hanoi: Vietnamese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Van Thao has hoped that India would echo a strong voice in the region to help Vietnam resolve the South China Sea dispute peacefully and as per international laws.

China is involved in long-running disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines about ownership of the South China Sea and its myriad, mostly uninhabited, islands and atolls. Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims.

Speaking to mediapersons in Hanoi on Friday, Nguyen Van Thao thanked the Indian Government for supporting the peaceful dialogue process, initiated by the Vietnamese government, to resolve this dispute.

"On this occasions and on this matter we would like to thank the (Indian) government for your agreement with the ways that we handle the dispute in South China sea, which is through diplomatic channels, through peaceful dialogues, through peaceful measures and most importantly, based on the international and legal documents and law," said Nguyen Van Thao.

Thao also claimed that all the moves made by China on the issue was in violation of international laws because the areas under dispute belonged to the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam, around 200 nautical miles from Vietnam`s territory.

Vietnam maintains that it wishes to resolve the dispute within parameters of international laws and on the basis of legal documents.

Earlier, Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Ranjit Rae said that India dealt with countries on the basis of bilateral issues separately and advertised the peace dialogue undertaken to resolve the South China Sea dispute.

"As far as the territorial disputes of different countries in this area are concerned, we believe that this dispute should be resolved by these countries through peaceful dialogue and it should be resolved as per the norms of the International law," said Rae.

He however conceded that India had a huge energy requirement with its growing economy growth and had hence signed an agreement with Vietnam to not only explore but also producing blocks of gas in from the sea.

"Even our companies are active in the South China Sea and it’s like they have come just yesterday, our companies have been active from late 1980`s. Not only in exploration, they are active in producing blocks of gas as well. In October last year, an agreement was signed between ONGC International limited and Petro Vietnam, when the honourable President of Vietnam visited India that agreement was signed. According to that agreement both companies will increase cooperation not only in Vietnam but also other countries," Rae added.

The South China Sea issue has picked up momentum ahead of ASEAN Summit scheduled to begin in Cambodia later this week.

The South China Sea is potentially the biggest flashpoint for confrontation in Asia, and tensions have risen since the United States adopted a policy last year to reinforce its influence in the region.