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China and the Philippines reach agreement over Spratly Islands

China and the Philippines have long been fighting for sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Now they appear to have agreed to use peaceful consultations and negotiations to resolve this conflict.

In a joint statement issued after a visit to Manila by Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian, he and his Philippine counterpart, Angelo Reyes, announced that China has agreed to a mechanism proposed by the Philippines for resolving the territorial dispute over the islands.

The Spratly Islands lie on an important shipping route, and have rich fishing, oil, and gas reserves. Other countries have laid claim to them, including Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

During his visit, Mr. Chi also met Philippine President Gloria Arroyo. But the bilateral talks reportedly did not address another controversy between the two countries, the fate of more than 100 Chinese fishermen who were detained by Manila seven months ago.

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