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Vietnam, China make no progress in talks about oil rig deployed in disputed South China Sea

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HANOI, Vietnam — A top Chinese diplomat and Vietnamese officials made no progress in talks Wednesday about an increasingly bitter confrontation over a giant oil rig China deployed in the disputed South China Sea, officials said.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi is the most senior Chinese diplomat to visit Vietnam since China placed the rig off the Vietnamese coast last month. Both countries have accused the other of violating their territorial rights and instigating clashes between ships around the rig.

A Vietnamese official familiar with the talks said no progress was made during the discussion between Yang and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He said the two sides still insisted on their opposing positions.

China's Foreign Ministry said Yang blamed Vietnam for interfering with the rig's operations and causing the present difficulties in their relations.

PHOTO: Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, arrives for talks with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (not in picture) in Hanoi, Vietnam on Wednesday June 18, 2014. Yang's visit is the highest-level direct dialogue bewteen the two countries since tension flared following Chinese placement of an oil rig off Vietnam's coast in early May. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh.)
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, arrives for talks with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (not in picture) in Hanoi, Vietnam on Wednesday June 18, 2014. Yang's visit is the highest-level direct dialogue bewteen the two countries since tension flared following Chinese placement of an oil rig off Vietnam's coast in early May. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh.)

Yang said Vietnam should stop the disruptions and take measures to secure Chinese property and people in Vietnam, according to an account of his remarks released by ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

The rig's deployment in early May triggered anti-China demonstrations and some turned to riots, which resulted in the deaths of five Chinese nationals and injuries to hundreds more. Hundreds of factories were damaged and dozens were burned. Many of them were built with Taiwanese investment.

Yang also met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong.

Dung told Yang that China's placement of the oil rig in Vietnamese-claimed waters was a "grave violation of Vietnamese sovereignty, .... threatening peace, security, maritime and aviation safety in the region," Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. It said he demanded that China withdraw the rig and the vessels escorting it and resolve disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law.

The two ideological allies fought a brief border war in 1979, and skirmishes also occurred in 1988 when China used force to occupy Johnson South reef in the Spratlys. Relations were normalized in 1991.

China claims most of the South China Sea, rich in natural resources and one of the world's busiest sea lanes, bringing it into disputes with neighbors, including the Philippines, a U.S. ally.

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PHOTO: Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung pose for photos before their meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on Wednesday June 18, 2014. Talks between Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese officials on produced no breakthrough in the impasse over an increasingly bitter confrontation in the disputed South China Sea, a Vietnamese official said. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh.)
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