China ready to 'enhance dialogue' with US: FM

Above: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a meeting with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh during a visit to the Government Guest House in Hanoi on July 10, 2012.

PHNOM PENH - China said Thursday it is ready to "enhance" its dialogue with the US, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Chinese counterpart met on the sidelines of an Asian security meeting.

"China and US relations have continued to make progress this year," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said, adding the sides agreed to "enhance our dialogue... to continue to expand our common ground".

His comments come as China comes under scrutiny for its handling of a series of territorial disputes with its neighbours, which include several key US allies.

Clinton welcomed the meeting, saying a slew of joint initiatives including disaster relief, forestry policy and disease control, were "an important signal that the US and China not only can, but will work together in Asia."

The positive diplomatic tone followed the Secretary of State's warning on Thursday morning to countries around the South China Sea to settle their territorial disputes "without coercion".

The Philippines and Vietnam accuse China of acting aggressively over its competing claims to several islands in the resource-rich sea, while Tokyo and Beijing on Wednesday exchanged barbs over a separate sovereignty quarrel in the East China Sea.

Analysts have said Clinton has been keen to avoid souring ties with China during her visit to Cambodia, amid a fraught background of rows between Beijing and its neighbours.

The US has made a military and economic "pivot" towards Asia in a strategic bid to counteract China's influence in the region, the main bright spot of the morose global economy and home to huge untapped resources.

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