NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Tension between the United States and China spilt over into meetings of Asia-Pacific leaders on Friday as the two countries jostled over how to handle competing claims to the South China Sea. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said "outside forces" had no excuse to get involved in the complex maritime dispute, a veiled warning to the United States and other countries to keep out of the sensitive issue. "It ought to be resolved through friendly consultations and discussions by countries directly involved. Outside forces should not, under any pretext, get involved," Wen told a meeting with Southeast Asian leaders, several of whose countries claim sovereignty to parts of the South China Sea. The speech transcript was carried on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website ( The remark is the latest barb between the two countries in recent weeks, and comes as President Barack Obama has sought to reassert US presence in the Asia-Pacific to counter the growing influence of the world's second-largest economy, China. Obama said in Australia on Thursday, on his last stop before jetting to the Asia meetings in neighbouring Indonesia, that the US military would expand its Asia-Pacific role, declaring America was "here to stay" as a Pacific power.