Amid China's growing assertiveness over the South China Sea, Vietnam Thursday said that India has the right to pursue 'exploration and exploitation work' in the area.
Vietnam foreign minister Pham Binh Minh, addressing a joint press briefing with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid, said both sides had discussed the South and East China Seas and had stated their position that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) needs to be respected.
"Our position is that we need to respect the law of UNCLOS to solve the issues in the South China Sea, for peaceful resolution," the Vietnam minister said.
He said both sides had also reaffirmed that all the countries bordering the South and East China Sea have rights to their exclusive economic zones, and that India can pursue 'exploration and exploitation work in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam'.
Khurshid said that India expresses its commitment to continue bilateral collaboration with Vietnam 'in the field of exploration' and he added that these are commercial ventures by Indian companies.
Khurshid also said that India has indicated that any contentious issue 'should be settled in a peaceful manner, through dialogue'.