UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Vietnam's U.N. ambassador urged China on Tuesday to withdraw its oil rig and more than 100 ships from the South China Sea to create "an environment" for negotiations on the disputed waters.
But Ambassador Le Hoai Trung said in an interview with The Associated Press that Beijing refuses to engage in dialogue and insists there is no dispute, claiming the area around the rig belongs to China.
The escalation in tensions is the most serious in years between Vietnam and its massive northern neighbor, which claims nearly all of the South China Sea.
China sent the rig into the disputed waters on May 1, provoking a confrontation with Vietnamese ships, complaints from Hanoi and street protests that turned into bloody anti-Chinese riots. Hundreds of factories were damaged, and China said four of its citizens were "brutally killed" and over 300 injured.
Trung said "some extreme elements" provoked by China's deployment of the rig undertook actions which the government "very much regrets." He said many suspects have been arrested and prosecuted, and the government has taken measures to prevent a repetition of the violence.
Both Vietnam and China have taken the dispute over the rig to the United Nations, circulating rival documents among the U.N. General Assembly's 193 member states. Vietnam has said it is considering legal action against China in an international court.
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