China's premier tells ASEAN leaders dialogue key to settle issues with Beijing

Chinese Premier Li Qiang has held talks with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Indonesia.

The meeting took place in Jakarta on Wednesday. China's increasing presence in the South China Sea was likely discussed. China and some ASEAN members have overlapping claims in the region.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said at the outset that ASEAN and China must build and maintain mutual trust in order to realize concrete cooperation. He said trust and cooperation can be a positive force for regional stability and peace.

Premier Li said China respects and places importance on its relations with ASEAN no matter what changes occur in international affairs. He said differences in opinion should be settled through dialogue.

The talks took place behind closed doors.

The leaders are believed to have discussed setting a code of conduct for the South China Sea -- a topic the two sides have been discussing for more than 20 years to prevent clashes in the disputed waters.

Exchanges were also expected over China's new map laying claim to most of the South China Sea. Some ASEAN members have reacted sharply to the map, recently published by Beijing.

Issues involving the South China Sea are also likely to be discussed in an ASEAN-US meeting, to be attended by US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio is also due to hold a meeting with ASEAN leaders on Wednesday.