Beijing: China and Vietnam Likely to Sign Border Agreement Next Week
China and Vietnam hope to sign an agreement on the demarcation of their disputed sea border in the Gulf of Tonkin next week during a visit by Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong, officials here said Tuesday.
"The two sides have already solved major outstanding questions in the delimitation of the Beibu Gulf (Gulf of Tonkin)," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told a news conference.
"We look forward to the official signing of the demarcation of the Beibu Gulf and a fishery agreement during the visit of President Tran to China."
Tran is scheduled to pay a goodwill visit to China from December 25 to 29, according to the foreign ministry.
Zhang said the two countries were in the final stages of ironing out a border agreement.
"With regard to some specific details, the two sides are still holding consultations. We hope that the agreement on demarcation of the Beibu Gulf and fishing agreement will be reached during President Tran's visit," Zhang said.
Talks between the neighbors on their Gulf of Tonkin sea border were launched in 1993, more than a decade after they fought a brief but bloody conflict following Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia, then an ally of Beijing.
Both countries' leaders have pledged to resolve the long-standing issue over the gulf by this year. The gulf washes the shore of southern China and northern Vietnam.
Vietnam's official news agency VNA reported last week that the two countries were close to reaching a border agreement after a fresh round of talks in Hanoi.
"Vietnam and China have basically completed the substantial issues" and are on course to meet an end of the month deadline for agreement, the official VNA news agency said.
Last December, the two sides finally reached a landmark accord on their disputed land border.
Even after agreement has been reached on the Gulf of Tonkin, they will remain at odds over two archipelagos in the South China Sea where they have fought as recently as the late 1980s.
The two sides are also scheduled to issue a statement on cooperation in the new century during Tran's visit -- BEIJING (AFP)
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