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Philippines stops boat convoy to disputed shoal

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 4:55 a.m. HST, May 18, 2012

MANILA, Philippines >> Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has intervened to stop a convoy of fishing boats that was heading to a South China Sea shoal as the Philippines and China discuss easing a two-month standoff there.

Aquino's spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the president on Friday telephoned a former naval captain leading the convoy and he agreed to abandon the trip.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China would continue to guard the area "with high alert to prevent any provocative behavior."

Philippine and Chinese vessels have been standing off at Scarborough Shoal, where both countries claim sovereignty. Talks have gained momentum after both sides declared a two-month fishing ban this week.

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