Manila Both the Philippines and China have agreed to resolve a tense standoff near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, sources told Gulf News.

Both countries will call off protests and pull out their respective vessels as they seek to end a tense row that started on Sunday.

The implementation of all these "diplomatic plans" were expected to be finalised last night, a source from the Department of Foreign Affairs, who requested for anonymity, told Gulf News.

Albert del Rosario, Manila's Foreign Affairs Secretary, said the two nations had been able to find common ground on some issues, after he met with Ma Keqing, China's Ambassador to Manila.

"We have been able to arrive on some agreements. There are areas where we moved forward and there are areas which still remain a challenge… Both sides have agreed not to do anything that would escalate the situation there any further."

Status quo

Del Rosario said the two countries had agreed to maintain the "status quo," adding that he and Ma were expected to meet again last night after dinner.

Ho, however, did not say when the two countries would call off their diplomatic protests.

One sign that all ships from both countries would soon disengage in the standoff was yesterday's departure of a civilian Chinese vessel, the third Chinese ship that had on Thursday joined the two Chinese surveillance ships stationed near Scarborough Shoal since the start of the standoff, defence spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said.

Positive sign

"That was a positive sign… We are very hopeful this situation will be resolved very soon," Galvez said.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the Philippines' largest warship was on April 10 hindered from arresting Chinese fishermen aboard eight fishing vessels for illegal fishing near Scarborough Shoal, which lies 230km west of Subic Bay, in the central Philippines.

The warship proceeded to Poro Point, northern Luzon, reportedly to restock and refuel.