BEIJING, Dec 7 — China’s President Xi Jinping will visit Vietnam on December 12-13 to meet top state officials and discuss upgrading the two countries’ relations, the Chinese foreign ministry said today.

They will focus on areas of political security, multilateral and maritime issues, and promote further strategic cooperation, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing.

The Vietnamese communist party confirmed Xi’s visit.

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Several Chinese leaders have visited Vietnam leading up to the visit as the two countries seek to fortify ties.

China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner and a vital source of imports for its manufacturing sector.

In October, Xi told Vietnam’s second-highest ranking official that both countries must not forget the “original intention” of their traditional friendship.

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China and the United States have been jostling for influence among South-east Asian nations including Vietnam, which elevated its ties with Washington to a comprehensive strategic partnership, putting its one-time enemy on par with Beijing and Moscow.

“Since the beginning of this year, (China and Vietnam) have had frequent high-level interactions, close exchanges in various sectors, and continued deepening of cooperation in various fields,” Wang said.

Deepening cooperation will help to maintenance peace, stability and prosperity in the region, Wang added. — Reuters