China, Vietnam leaders reach South China Sea 'consensus'
Hanoi: The Communist leaders of China and Vietnam reached a "consensus" on handling the contested South China Sea, Chinese state media reported Sunday, hours after US President Donald Trump offered to mediate in the dispute.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong during a state visit to Hanoi on Sunday, after Trump also visited the country.
Xinhua news agency reported that the Chinese and Vietnamese sides "reached an important consensus in accordance with leaders of the two parties and countries, to appropriately manage maritime issues, steadily advance all forms of maritime cooperation including joint development and jointly strive to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea."
The report did not provide more details about the agreement.
China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually. It is also believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the sea.
Days after the US leader met Xi in Beijing, Trump made a surprise offer to Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi.
"If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know... I am a very good mediator," Trump said.
Tensions spiked this year when Vietnam suspended an oil exploration project in an area of the sea also claimed by Beijing, reportedly over pressure from its powerhouse communist neighbour.
In 2014, China moved an oil rig into waters off Vietnam's coast, sparking violent protests in several Vietnamese cities.