HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam and China on Sunday called for restraint in resolving disputes in the South China Sea.

Speaking to reporters at a joint press briefing with his Chinese counterpart, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said the two countries should manage the disputes and not expand them.

“We propose that the two sides in the coming time should seriously implement the mutual understandings of leaders (of two countries) … well manage disputes, do not have activities that complicate and expand disputes, respect the legitimate rights and interests of each other in accordance with international laws,” Minh said.

For his part, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said “settling maritime disputes is very important for the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations.”

Wang said the two sides “should not carry out unilateral activities that would complicate the situation and should strengthen maritime cooperation to build a healthy environment in order to reach an ultimate agreement on resolving the sea dispute, which will effectively boost the bilateral practical cooperation.”

China’s top diplomat said the two countries’ current relations are on “very positive trend,” and he described the two neighboring countries as “good neighbors, good comrades, good friends and good partners.”

Wang’s visit comes a week after Vietnam reportedly halted a major oil drilling project in the South China Sea for the second time in a year, following pressure from China.

Vietnam and China, along with four others, claim all or parts of the South China Sea, which lies on one of the world’s busiest sea lanes and potentially sits on rich natural resources.

China’s recent increased militarization of its seven artificial islands in the South China Sea has angered some countries in the region.