Hague Talks in Hanoi Touch on China Sea Dispute

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 6:00 am (UTC-5)
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British Foreign Secretary William Hague says he has been discussing a smoldering dispute over sovereignty in the South China Sea during a rare visit to Vietnam.

Hague told reporters Wednesday the dispute — which pits China against several of its neighbors — was just one of several issues in his talks with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.


“In addition, in our strategic dialogue we are now able to discuss – and in our meeting today – regional and global security, including tensions on the Korean peninsula, the global importance of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and our shared objective with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to help reform and progress in Burma.”

Trade issues also were high on the agenda for Hague, the first British foreign secretary to visit Vietnam in 17 years. The German news agency quoted British Ambassador Antony Stokes as saying Hague was interested in opportunities for arms procurement and sales.

British exports to Vietnam rose by 18 percent last year, while Vietnamese exports to Britain were up 37 percent.

Hague travels Thursday to Singapore for a speech of international affairs and then to Brunei for a meeting of foreign ministers.