China and Vietnam have moved to calm tensions over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, agreeing to hold talks and ruling out a military confrontation.
The announcement came amid a visit to Beijing by Vietnam's vice foreign minister, Ho Xuan Son, at the weekend.
Beijing and Hanoi had agreed "to prevent words and actions that would be detrimental to the friendship and mutual trust between the peoples of the two countries," according to a news release from China's foreign ministry on Sunday.
"The sound and steady development of Sino-Vietnamese ties conforms with the fundamental interests and common aspirations of the two peoples and is conducive to peace and stability in the region," the statement said.
The two sides will speed up negotiations over a new agreement on fundamental principles needed to solve maritime disputes between China and Vietnam, official media reported.
Both China and Vietnam stressed advancing Sino-Vietnamese partnership in the spirit of "good neighbors, good friends, good comrades and good partners," the release said.
Official media said the talks would send a clear message that neither side was interested in escalating the dispute over the strategically important Spratly and Paracel island chains.
Vietnam and China have held separate live-fire military exercises in the area after Hanoi accused Chinese ships of ramming one oil survey ship and cutting the exploration cables of another.
The stand-off sparked a wave of anti-China protests in Vietnam and warnings from Beijing to Vietnam not to try to involve the United States.
The Philippines and Vietnam have said they are alarmed by increasingly aggressive actions by China in the disputed waters, sparking concern that they would turn to Washington for support.
On June 13, Vietnam held four hours of live-fire drills in the South China Sea and on Friday, China announced that it had also held similar exercises.
Vietnam has welcomed foreign involvement to resolve the rival claims to the potentially resource-rich waters.
American and Vietnamese officials have called for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which encompasses an area from the Singapore and Malacca straits to the Strait of Taiwan.
And an official from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said last week that changing the name of the South China Sea, which is known by a number of names in different languages, could kick-start negotiations to resolve the dispute.
The Spratlys are claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia, while China and Vietnam say they have sovereignty over the Paracels.
Reported by Luisetta Mudie.