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A senior Chinese official arrived in Hanoi Friday for talks with the Vietnamese government on territorial disputes that have recently strained relations.

China's Deputy Foreign Minister Xu Dunxin arrived by road as head of a six-member delegation. He was met by Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Khoan.Asked by reporters if ties had been tense in recent months, Khoan said: "We have a common interest to promote our relationship. I am sure every side will make maximum efforts to promote our relationship."

Khoan spoke to journalists after receiving Xu at Hanoi's government guest house.

The Vietnamese ministry said earlier that both sides would exchange ideas on their land border and on territorial waters in the Tonkin Gulf and South China Sea.

Xu was scheduled to meet Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam Sunday, before leaving Hanoi Monday.

China was a key ally of Vietnam during its war against the French and later the United States. But the two fell out in the 1970s and maintained cool relations following a border war in 1979.

They normalized ties last November, but Vietnam has been angered and worried by what it says are Beijing's recent moves to expand Chinese territory and influence.

Vietnam says China shifted its southern frontier farther south while the two sides were working on reopening a cross-border railway line. The dispute has delayed reopening of the line.

Beijing passed a law in February claiming island groups and waters that Vietnam says is meant to implement China's claim to virtually the whole South China Sea.

In May, Beijing signed a contract with a U.S. firm to search for oil off southern Vietnam.

Earlier this month Hanoi said China was operating an oil exploration platform in Vietnamese waters just 70 nautical miles off Vietnam's northern coast.