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China, Vietnam reach consensus on appropriately handling contested South China Sea

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Trump offers to mediate in protracted South China Sea feud

"I'm a very good mediator and arbitrator", Trump said during a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi before flying to Manila for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he was prepared to mediate between claimants to the South China Sea, which include Vietnam and China.

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The two parties said it "is important that we cooperate to maintain peace, stability, freedom of navigation in and overflight above the SCS, in accordance with global law", including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Southeast Asian leaders and their counterparts are expected to announce the formal start of negotiations on the sea code that envisions to manage tensions in the disputed waters.

Mr Duterte took steps to thaw frosty relations with China after he won the presidency past year.

China, Taiwan and four ASEAN member states-Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam-have overlapping claims in the waterway, which straddles busy worldwide sea lanes and potentially has vast undersea deposits of oil and gas.

Leaders of the ASEAN also will sign an accord aiming to protect migrant workers from the poverty-wracked region during a two-day summit that opened Monday in Manila, according to a draft of a post-summit communique seen by The Associated Press.

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In August, ASEAN pushed for a legally binding code despite China's insistence for a document with lesser force.

However no timeframe was announced for an actual code.

The statement expresses trust "that we will continue this positive momentum and work towards a substantive and effective COC" and looks forward to the code's early conclusion.

"If you go to the negotiating table and you start with the statement 'that I am here to claim validity of our ownership, ' you're wasting your time".

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte discussed the issue with Mr Xi during a meeting in Danang, Vietnam, where they attended the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum last week.

Contempt for China runs deep in Vietnam, a country that was colonized by China for almost 1,000 years.

When he raised concerns over China's increasing military capability in the South China Sea, Mr Duterte said Mr Xi replied, "No, it's nothing".

According to Malacañang, Duterte recognized the strong relations between the Philippines and Brunei and vowed to further strengthen it in the years ahead.

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