China’s Xi urges improved SE Asia ties in Indonesia speech

China’s Xi urges improved SE Asia ties in Indonesia speech
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan at the Hero's Cemetary in Jakarta, Indonesia on October 3, 2013

JAKARTA - China's President Xi Jinping said Thursday territorial disputes with Southeast Asia should be resolved in a "peaceful manner" as he sought to mend frayed ties during the first speech by a foreign leader to the Indonesian parliament.

Making his first visit to the region since taking power in March, Xi turned to the issue of maritime territorial disputes - China's increasingly assertive claims to almost the entire South China Sea have sparked territorial rows in recent times, in particular with the Philippines and Vietnam.

Xi said that Beijing and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should resolve territorial and maritime disputes "in a peaceful manner so as to safeguard regional stability and peace".

"Southeast Asia is one important hub of the maritime Silk Road. China is ready to increase maritime cooperation with ASEAN," he said.

"China attaches great importance to Indonesia's role in ASEAN and is ready to work together with Indonesia and other ASEAN countries to make the two sides share the same prosperity."

Xi chose to make his comments in Indonesia, a country that does not have any disputes with China over the strategically important sea and that has often acted as a mediator in rows.

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