"In the South China Sea, the US is not a claimant in current disputes, but we will stand with our partners in upholding key principles like freedom of navigation," Obama said, as quoted by the CNN broadcaster.
Obama’s speech come a day after the lifting of the decades-long US ban of lethal weapons’ sales to Vietnam. According to Obama, the Vietnam will now have “greater access to the equipment you need to improve your security."
"Disputes should be resolved peacefully," he added.
The South China Sea contains a number of disputed islands, including the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands. Vietnam has been a vocal claimant to disputed territory in the South China Sea, where China has built up a military presence in recent years.