Vietnam's prime minister told the Chinese ambassador on Tuesday, the eve of a visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris, that Hanoi does not align itself with one country against any other.
Earlier on Tuesday, Harris accused Beijing of coercion and intimidation to back claims in the South China Sea, her most pointed comments on China during a visit to Southeast Asia, a region she said was critical to US security.
"Prime Minister (Pham Minh Chinh) affirmed that Vietnam adheres to an independent, self-reliant, multilateral, and diverse foreign policy and is a responsible member of the international community," the Vietnamese government said in a statement.
"Vietnam does not align itself with one country against another," it said.
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be settled according to international law and "high-level common sense," it said. China would provide Covid-19 vaccine support for Vietnam, it added.
The meeting between Chinh and Chinese ambassador Xiong Bo was not previously announced and came as plans for Harris to fly to Vietnam from Singapore, where she concluded a three-day trip late on Tuesday, were unexpectedly delayed for three hours.
A spokesperson for Harris declined to comment on the reason for the delay. In a statement, the US Embassy in Hanoi said the delay was due to reports of a "recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi".
"After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the Vice President's trip," the statement said, without elaborating.
The US administration has called rivalry with China "the biggest geopolitical test" of the century and Southeast Asia has seen a series of high-profile visits by top administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.