President-elect Donald Trump said tonight that China should keep the U.S. Navy underwater drone that had been seized in international waters in the South China Sea. The Pentagon said Saturday that China agreed to return the drone.
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"We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!" Trump tweeted this evening.
The incident had sparked a diplomatic protest from the United States demanding the return of the drone, which is used for oceanographic research.
Before it was revealed that China would return the drone to the United States, Trump took to Twitter to call the drone seizure an "unprecedented act."
"China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act," he tweeted.
The Trump transition team even took credit for China agreeing to return the drone, his communications director boasting on Twitter that "Trump gets it done." However the agreement to return the drone was done through through "direct engagement" between the United States and China, the Pentagon said.
"We have registered our objection to China's unlawful seizure of a U.S. unmanned underwater vehicle operating in international waters in the South China Sea," Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement released Saturday. "Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States."
No details were provided on how the drone would be returned to U.S. control.