12 Jul 2013 11:19

NEW DELHI, Jul 12 (Bernama) - Vietnam on Thursday said India has the right to pursue exploration and exploitation work in South China Sea as it is within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

At the 15th Joint Commission Meeting held here, Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid had a discussion about the South and East China Seas during which both agreed that the United Nations (UN)'s law on freedom of navigation in high seas needs to be respected.

"Our position is that we need to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to resolve issues in the South China Sea peacefully," Minh said in a joint press conference after the meeting.

Minh said both sides have also reaffirmed that all countries bordering the South and East China Sea have rights to their exclusive economic zones.

The remarks came in the backdrop of continued objections from China over oil exploration projects undertaken by India in Vietnamese oil blocks. China has been claiming territorial sovereignty over South China Sea, a claim contested by its neighbours including Vietnam.

On his part, Indian Foreign Minister Khurshid said that India has indicated any contentious issue "should be settled in a peaceful manner through dialogue."

During the meeting, India and Vietnam also signed a US$19.5 million line of credit for setting up the Nam Trai-IV hydropower project and Binh Bo Pumping station in Vietnam.

Both countries have also agreed to boost bilateral relations in fields including security and defence, trade and investment, science and technology, human resource development, education, and culture. --BERNAMA EE