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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets police officers as he boards his plane at Hanoi Airport as he departs, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 in Hanoi, Vietnam. REUTERS/Alex Brandon/Pool


HANOI (Reuters) - Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he was confident that the Trump administration would stick to the same principles on Asian regional security as those of the Obama administration.

In reference to the disputed South China Sea, he told a university audience in Ho Chi Minh that countries big or small should refrain from provocation and any dispute should be solved peacefully in accordance with international law.

His comments came after U.S. Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said the United States must send a clear signal to China that its island-building in the South China Sea must stop and that its access to those islands must not be allowed.

(Story changes location to Ho Chi Minh in second paragraph)

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Writing by My Pham; Editing by Nick Macfie)