Chinese and Vietnamese officials are expressing a willingness to improve relations between the countries. They spoke to reporters Wednesday in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi.
Relations worsened after China placed an oil rig in disputed waters off the Vietnamese coast. The dispute led to deadly anti-China protests in Vietnam and clashes in the South China Sea, known to Vietnam as the East Sea.
Pham Binh Minh is the Vietnamese Foreign Minister. He confirmed plans to discuss the dispute at talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi.
General view of the meeting between Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (5th L) and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (5th R) at the Government's Guesthouse, in Hanoi, June 18, 2014.
He said, "we wish to discuss and resolve the complicated situation in the East Sea and to help develop healthy and stable relations between the two countries for the benefit of both sides and the region."
Mr. Yang agreed that the dispute is damaging relations between the two countries.
He said, "China and Vietnam relations are experiencing a difficult period. On this trip, as appointed by our Central Committee, I am to discuss candidly and thoroughly with Mr. Pham Binh Minh the two countries' relations and current issues in the South China Sea."
After the meeting, Mr. Yang was set to meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the head of Vietnam's Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong.
Duong Danh Dy formerly served as Vietnam's consul general in Guangzhou, China. He said the Chinese government is using Mr. Yang's visit to seek compromise.
He said that it would be best to remove the oil rig because of Vietnam's strong opposition and criticism from other countries. He said China has to decide what happens next. He said China set up the equipment in the first place, and now seems prepared to reduce tensions.
The United States has said it does not take sides in the territorial dispute. U.S. officials say they want countries in East Asia to settle their differences peacefully.
In addition to Vietnam, China is also involved in territorial disputes with the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.