Beijing -The Philippines announced on March 2 that a dispute with China over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea had been settled and the two sides would work together to exploit the region's oil deposits.
“Disputes and conflicts are all over now," visiting Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.
"TheSouth China Sea, instead of a regional flash point, has been transformed into an area of cooperation, peace and development."
China, thePhilippines,Brunei,Malaysia,Taiwan, andVietnamclaim in whole or in part the oil-rich Spratly chain of islands and atolls in theSouth China Sea.
All the claimants, exceptBrunei, have troops stationed in the area and there have been deadly clashes in the past.
Last year,Chinaand thePhilippinesagreed to carry out a joint study of the mineral reserves in the area, sparking concern from the other claimants.
Vietnamwarned that the joint study could violate a 2002 code of conduct signed by the claimants to refrain from actions that could disturb the volatile peace in the islands.
But Mr Romulo indicated that matters had been settled, saying that his comment on disputes and conflicts "refers not only to China and the Philippines, but also others which claim the South China Sea territory”.
* RP, China agree to settle dispute in South China Sea (Inquirer News Service, March 2)