VIETNAM issued a strong call for peace yesterday in the disputed Spratly Islands after three days of talks with Chinese officials ended with both sides claiming sovereignty over the oil-rich seabed. Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Ho The Lan pleaded for differences to be resolved peacefully ''refraining from any act to further complicate the situation . . . through the use of force or the threat of force''. ''We advocated the solving of the disputes over territorial sovereignty as well as other issues through peaceful negotiation and in the spirit of equality, mutual respect and understanding,'' Ms Lan said. Tensions are reportedly running high in the Tu Chinh field off Vung Tau in southern Vietnam, with two Chinese warships stopping the re-supply of a Vietnamese rig. At least one supply ship has been forced away and China has already granted rights to a field nearby - which it calls Wan'an Bei 21 - to obscure Denver oilman Randall Thompson and his Crest one company. Ms Lan did not confirm the existence of the platform but earlier chief Vietnamese delegate and Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Khoan claimed: ''Everything is normal now.'' Ms Lan reported ''remarkable progress'' in the more minor territorial discussions over the Tonkin Gulf and northern land border areas but said talks over the Spratly Islands would continue with the Chinese delegation leader and Deputy Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in Beijing next year. There will be two more rounds of the lower level ''expert'' meetings beforehand. The agreement to meet again followed ''frank and friendly'' discussions. ''These talks brought about a better understanding of each other's position but it's impossible to bring about a solution in such a short time,'' she said. ''The two sides have agreed to continue studies and negotiations.'' Ms Lan went on to reaffirm Vietnam's claim to the area under the United Nations Law of the Sea, giving Vietnam a 200 nautical mile economic zone and control over the bed of its continental shelf. A source at the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi said China had not dropped its claim at the talks and had sought to clearly reaffirm its position. However, the source claimed the talks a success, adding: ''At least both sides are still talking''. China also claims much of other areas claimed by Vietnam and awarded to several major foreign companies. Currently just one field - Bach Ho - is producing commercially viable amounts for a Vietnamese-Russian joint venture, Vietsov Petro, making crude oil Vietnam's biggest export. It brings in about a third - some US$720 million (HK$5.6 billion) - of the country's export revenue. Two other fields - Big Bear and Rong - are set to start commercial production at the end of the year in moves which Hanoi oil industry analysts and diplomats fear could heighten tensions as the area's potential becomes obvious.