Vietnam has condemned plans by China and the Philippines to jointly explore for oil in the disputed Spratly Islands. Reasserting its claim over the South China Sea archipelago, the Vietnamese foreign ministry said the move went against the spirit of a 2002 agreement between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to reduce tensions in the area. Last week the Philippine and Chinese governments agreed to a three-year joint exploration of petroleum reserves in the area to be conducted by their state-owned oil companies. Six governments claim all or part of the Spratly Islands, a group known as the Nansha islands in China.
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