U.S. President Barack Obama. Pic: AP.

TOKYO (AP) — President Barack Obama says he wants to see a dispute between China and Japan over islands in the East China Sea resolved peacefully.

But he is affirming that U.S. treaty obligations to Japan cover all areas under Japan’s administration. He’s referring to the disputed Senkaku islands.

China also claims the remote islands. The dispute has badly strained relations between the two Asian powers.

Obama says the islands have historically been administered by Japan and the U.S. does not believe that they should be subject to change unilaterally.

Obama said at a press conference with Japan’s prime minister that he wants the maritime issue to be worked out “through dialogue.” He urged them to “keep the rhetoric low.”

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