Time for closer relations with Vietnam, Hu says

Updated: 2011-11-14 07:31

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)

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HONOLULU - China and Vietnam should consolidate their friendship, despite potential problems in bilateral ties, President Hu Jintao said on Saturday.

Hu made the remarks when meeting with Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang at the sidelines of the 19th leaders meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group in Hawaii.

It's the first time the two have met since Sang was elected president this year.

Hu said that the two countries have maintained a dialogue and fruitful economic and trade cooperation during the past two decades.

China has been Vietnam's largest trade partner for the past seven years.

Bilateral trade totaled $30 billion in 2010. Trade reached about $25 billion in the first eight months of this year, up 40 percent year-on-year.

"The experience of the past 20 years conveys to us a most important inspiration: that is, China and Vietnam should both follow the path of friendly cooperation," Hu told Sang.

Hu added that both countries should be responsible to both nations' citizens and unwaveringly develop bilateral ties, no matter what problems might arise.

China and Vietnam have developed ties recently, but they have also argued repeatedly this year over the sovereignty of islands in the South China Sea.

Earlier this year, Communist Party of Vietnam General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong paid an official visit to China. In a joint statement issued during the visit, the two countries pledged to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Details of the Saturday meeting were not available at press time, but Chinese foreign ministry officials described the meeting as a frank one that had achieved consensus.

Hu urged the two countries to work toward cooperation in agriculture, transportation, energy and mines.

Sang said that "enhancing the comprehensive strategic partnership has been the long-term and consistent strategy" of Vietnam. He thanked China for its support and help in the past.