Obama urges de-escalation, dialogue in China-Japan maritime row

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., June 8 Sat Jun 8, 2013 6:41pm EDT

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., June 8 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama urged his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to "de-escalate" a contentious territorial dispute with Japan and deal with the matter through diplomatic channels, Obama's national security adviser said on Saturday.

Obama told Xi "the parties should seek to de-escalate, not escalate, and the parties should seek to have conversations about this through diplomatic channels, and not through actions out on the East China Sea," Thomas Donilon told reporters after a two-day informal summit in California.

A maritime territory dispute over islets in the East China Sea has escalated to the point where China and Japan scramble fighter jets and patrol ships shadow each other. The United States, a formal security ally of Japan, says it is neutral about sovereignty over the islets, but opposes use of force or unilateral efforts to change the status quo. (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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