New Delhi: Amid the dispute between India and China over exploration in South China Sea, the US on Tuesday said the laws of the seas should apply and issues should be addressed through dialogue.

"We try not to get in to the business of bilateral interactions and disputes but instead have a principled policy about the parameters on which the dialogue and discussion should be based," the US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said here.

"All I would say is that the United States is very careful about how we talk about and how we act in the South China sea," he told reporters when asked about the dispute between India and China over exploration in South China Sea.

China, which lays claim over South China Sea, has been opposing exploration by India there. But India has maintained that China does not have exclusive rights over the region.

Campbell, who was talking to media after the fifth India-US dialogue on Asia Pacific region, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had laid out "very clear criteria about how we would like to see issues handled, that are legally based and issues associated with the law of the sea."

The policy was "that to maintain peace and stability is strategic interest of our country and others and need for peaceful dialogue would be critical for going forth," he added.

Asked about Myanmar, he appreciated India's advice given over the last few years.

"Frankly, I must say we have received very good advice and counsel from India over the course of last couple of years. An encouragement about engagement, and we think that advice has been good advice in terms of how we should approach the opportunities that we are facing today," he said.

Speaking about India's role in the Asia-Pacific, Campbell welcomed its growing role in the region.

"India has so much to bring to the table; it is hard to describe any one area. First of all they are extraordinarily supportive of development throughout the South East Asia," the US official said.

He said India's relations were dramatically improving with other countries of North East Asia like Japan, South Korea and also China as a whole.

"India's role in Asia extends to every dimension of national power -- economic, strategic, people to people, cultural, military," Campbell said.

Speaking about changes in Myanmar where pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was recently elected to Parliament, Campbell said the United States will begin a process of lifting financial sanctions and restrictions.

He said Myanmar was taking the steps essential in helping to advance the process of reform.

"The United States believes that it must recognise the courageous efforts that have been taken to date," he said, adding "we will take these economic steps."

Calling the situation in Myanmar a "once in a generation chance", Campbell said the US will now support the establishment of a UNDP office inside the country and will open an office of USAID mission.

"We are also going to lift travel restrictions and we have invited the foreign minister (of Myanmar) to visit the United States," he said.

In response to a question about the failed rocket launch by North Korea, Campbell said the attempt was unhelpful for maintenance of peace.

"The current steps that they have taken in terms of the rocket launch were anti-thetical to UN Security Council resolutions but any further provocations will be most unwelcome indeed," he said.

(Agencies)