The U.S. military commander in the Pacific has warned that the "risk of miscalculation" that could trigger a wider conflict in a tense territorial standoff between China and Vietnam is high and urged both nations to exercise restraint.

Adm. Samuel Locklear said Friday that the Asian neighbors should resolve their territorial conflicts on the basis of international law.

When asked by reporters about the prospects of a closer security ties between Washington and Hanoi, Locklear said the United States has pursued alliances in Asia for a long time and wanted to explore opportunities to enhance ties with Vietnam and other Asian nations.

Locklear spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Manila, where he joined a discussion that assessed security threats in the region.