The Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said China has withdrawn all its ships from disputed Scarborough Shoal area after the two countries reached a verbal agreement to pull out from the lagoon, AP reported. Manila withdrew its two ships from Scarborough Shoal on June 15 due to storms, but said an unspecified number of Chinese boats remained in the area. The Philippines’ president threatened to send ships back to the contested area if Chinese vessels did not also pull back. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that the situation “is overall toward peace,” but did not comment on Chinese ships withdrawing from the area. The standoff at the Scarborough Shoal erupted in April when the Philippines accused Chinese fishermen of operating inside its exclusive economic zone; Chinese paramilitary vessels were deployed to protect the fishing ships.
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