Trump touts his dealmaking skills as solution to South China Sea dispute

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disembarks from the cockpit of a Cessna-208B Grand Caravan Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft in Manila

"I'm a very good mediator and arbitrator", Trump said at a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, before flying to Manila for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

President Donald Trump has offered to mediate in the South China Sea disputes, while his Chinese counterpart played down concerns over Beijing's military build-up and the prospects of war in the contested waters.

Chinese President Xi Jinping received a red carpet welcome at the start of his state visit to Vietnam Sunday despite growing tensions between the two communist countries.

"Let me thank you for your crucial help in our fight in Marawi a few weeks ago".

The Chinese leader, however, would not back down on Beijing's territorial claim, Duterte said, and justified his decision not to immediately demand Chinese compliance with a ruling by a United Nations -linked tribunal that invalidated China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea on historical grounds.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, and the dispute has always been seen as a potential trigger for conflict in Asia.

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Ahead of the next regional meetings, the ASEAN summit in Manila, Chinese state media reported that Xi pledged to work with China's ASEAN partners "to maintain peace and stability, as well as development and prosperity".

Briefing reporters in Beijing during the China leg of Trump's Asia tour, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US view on the maritime dispute hadn't changed - that "claimants should stop construction and militarization" of disputed islands. The disputes are expected to get the spotlight at the summit, along with the North Korean nuclear threat and terrorism.

Dotted with small islands, reefs and shoals, the South China Sea is a crucial shipping route and home a messy territorial dispute that pits multiple countries against one another. At $32 billion past year, it was the sixth largest with the United States, though less than a tenth the size of China's.

The two communist neighbors have in recent months experienced spats over the South China Sea.

China will treat neighboring countries with amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, pushing forward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, said Xi.

Noting the great importance of bilateral ties, Duterte said the Philippines regards China as a honest friend and is grateful for China's assistance on economy, anti-terrorism and maintaining stability. The Hague rejected China's territorial claim to the maritime area in 2016 and found in favour of the Philippines, but China rejected the ruling.

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