Washington [US], February 4 (ANI): US President Joe Biden was briefed about the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon hovering over the US, as it moves eastward, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
In an informal briefing, Pierre said, "So, the President was briefed on this on Tuesday. He has continued to receive regular briefings and updates from the national security team. I just want to reiterate what the Pentagon said earlier today, my counterpart. We've detected and are tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now, as you all know. It does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground."
Describing the process of how the decision-making process worked, she said that after being briefed US President asked the military to present options. And the military officers, including Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley, and the commander of Northern Command strongly suggested not to take kinetic action because of the risk to the safety and security of the people on the ground.
"I can say, as it relates to Blinken's trip, the President agrees with the Secretary -- Secretary's decision to not go to -- go on this trip, and it was a consensus that -- that it was not appropriate to travel to the People's Republic of China at this time," Pierre said.
She further stated, "We note that -- the PRC statement of regret, but the presence of this balloon in our airspace, it is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law, and it is unacceptable this -- this occurred."
Under this President Joe Biden, we are more prepared to outcompete China, protect our national security, and advance a free and open Indo-Pacific than ever before, she added.
Many of the efforts the US has been pursuing are bipartisan, underscoring the alignment at home and -- and on this key issue. And so, that's how the US is going to continue to proceed.
Earlier, Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder rejected China's claim that the surveillance balloon is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes, saying, "The balloon continues to move eastward and is over the center of the continental US. Again, we currently assess that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground at this time, and we'll continue to monitor and review options."
Responding to a query on China's statement over the suspected balloon, Ryder said, "We are very aware of the PRC statement but however, but the fact is we know it is a surveillance balloon. We know that the balloon has violated US airspace and international law -- which is unacceptable. And we've conveyed this directly to the PRC on multiple levels."
On Thursday, a Pentagon spokesperson, in an official briefing said, "The United States Government has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now. The U.S. government, including NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information." (ANI)