Dont meddle in South China sea dispute: China to US

Beijing: Taking strong exception to US navy`s proactive presence in the oil rich South China Sea, China which is grappling to resolve maritime disputes with several ASEAN countries on Monday asked it to stay out of the region.

"It`s not a proper time for the US to conduct military drills in the region with the Philippines and Vietnam," Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People`s Liberation Army (PLA) said.

Chen made direct reference to US navy`s recent war games with the militaries of the two countries which raised strong objections to China`s claims of sovereignty over the oil rich disputed islands.

The US should restrain from engaging in disputes over the South China Sea, Chen told media here after his talks with US counterpart Mike Mullen.

China subsequently engaged with Vietnam and Philippines to scale down the tensions by promising to seek peaceful solution.

Chen`s comments came as Mullen chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, asserted that US is a Pacific power and would remain so.

Mullen in his address to the Renmin University yesterday has declared that Washington`s enduring presence in the Asia-Pacific Region is important and it will continue to be so.

"This means China has to deal with the reality of growing US involvement in the region in the long run.

Both sides want to avoid confrontation. They believe that military to military relations are in the interests of everybody," Chinese state run CCTV reported today.

The oil-and gas-rich islands in South China Sea are claimed by several southeast Asian states, including the Philippines and Vietnam.