BEIJING, June 17 (UPI) -- China and Vietnam will hold talks regarding the oil rig installed by China in the South China Sea, both countries announced Tuesday.
Senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi will meet Wednesday in Hanoi with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh to discuss the deep-sea oil rig. It has been the subject of low-level naval skirmishes between the two countries since it was erected in disputed territorial waters -- 120 miles off Vietnam's coast and near the Parcel Islands, which are claimed by both countries.
Chinese and Vietnamese coast guard boats have rammed each other in almost daily skirmishes since May, but the situation has settled into what an unidentified U.S. official termed a "dangerous stability."
The talks will be the first high-level negotiations since early May, when the encounters between ships began.
China currently is surrounding the oil rig with several dozen vessels, and has five warships further out to sea. Vietnam has fewer vessels on the scene, with warships further away, the U.S. official said.
Hua Chunyuing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Yang seeks a "frank and thorough exchange of views on matters of common concern to all. We hope Vietnam will focus on the broader picture, come together with China and appropriately deal with the current situation."