US : Secretary of State Antony Blinken will delay his trip to Beijing after the military spotted a suspected spy balloon drifting over Montana, a US official has said.
Mr Blinken did not want to blow the situation out of proportion by cancelling his visit, but also did not want the balloon incident to dominate his meetings with Chinese officials, a high-ranking US official said in a call with reporters.
“I spoke this morning with Director of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi to convey that, in light of China’s unacceptable action, I am postponing my planned travel this weekend to China,” Mr Blinken said.
He added that the US had been in repeated communications with Chinese officials over the issue.
Montana is one of the largest states in the US and also one of the least populated. Malmstrom Air Force Base in Cascade County is home to one of three active nuclear missile silos in the country.
The US “detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now”, Pentagon spokesman Brig Gen Pat Ryder said on Thursday.