Obama urges China, neighbors to avoid escalating maritime dispute

WASHINGTON Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:18pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Iraq in the briefing room of the White House in Washington June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Iraq in the briefing room of the White House in Washington June 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday urged China and its neighbors to peacefully resolve a dispute over oil drilling in the South China Sea and avoid escalating tensions.

"It is important for us to be able to resolve disputes like maritime disputes in accordance with international law, and encourage all parties concerned to maintain a legal framework for resolving issues, as opposed to possible escalation that could have an impact on navigation and commerce," Obama told reporters.

Obama made his comments after an Oval Office meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who expressed similar concerns.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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