China returns seized US sea drone

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A US underwater drone seized by China last week has now been returned, the Pentagon has confirmed.

The drone was handed over close to the location it was seized, some 92km north-west of Subic Bay.

A statement said the US will “fly, sail, and operate in the South China Sea” where international law allows.

China captured the vessel in international waters last Thursday, in one of the most serious confrontations between the powers in decades.

“After friendly consultations between the Chinese and U.S. sides, the handover was smoothly completed at midday”, China’s defence ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Pentagon had said the drone, known as an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), was being used to carry out scientific research at the time it was captured.

It added that the incident was inconsistent with international law and codes of conduct between navies at sea, and that it would continue to investigate.

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