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“Spy” balloons detected in America | Chinese ambassador summoned to Ottawa



(Ottawa) Canada says it has summoned China’s ambassador to Ottawa – without saying more – as Ottawa and Washington express disapproval of a high-altitude surveillance balloon seen flying over the United States . A second device was later detected in Latin America.

Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu was summoned by officials from Global Affairs Canada on Thursday after the Pentagon disclosed the presence of the balloon over sensitive military sites in the western United States.

“The Chinese ambassador to Canada has been summoned by officials from Global Affairs Canada,” ministry spokeswoman Charlotte MacLeod said in a written statement on Friday. We will continue to vigorously express our position to Chinese officials through multiple channels. »

U.S. officials also announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is postponing a high-profile diplomatic visit scheduled for the weekend to China, even as the Biden administration considers a broader response to the discovery of the balloon.

The discovery was announced Thursday by Pentagon officials, who said one of the locations where the balloon had been spotted was over the state of Montana, which is home to one of the three silo fields of US nuclear missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

On Friday, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder described the object as a maneuverable surveillance balloon flying at an altitude of about 60,000 feet, or 18,288 meters, with a “payload” or basket below.

Mr. Ryder did not provide further details, including the size of the balloon, the US military’s assumptions about what it was doing there or how it ended up hovering over Montana. However, he played down any threat when asked why the ball had not been brought down.

“As far as discussing whether or not to knock that ball down, that was an option,” he said. Because we currently assess this poses no physical or military risk to those on the ground, at this time we continue to monitor and review options. »

At a news conference in Toronto, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the movements of the ball were being actively monitored.

She said Norad (North American Aerospace Defense Command), the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defense and other partners were “assessing the situation and working in close coordination”, adding that the Canadian intelligence agencies were working with American partners.

“We continue to take all necessary steps to protect Canada from foreign intelligence threats,” said Freeland.

“We take this very seriously. »

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said on Twitter on Friday that she had spoken with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the security of Canadian airspace.

“We are working with our U.S. partners and continue to take all necessary steps to protect Canada’s sensitive information,” she said.

Nor Mme Neither Freeland nor the Department of Defense said whether the surveillance balloon flew over Canadian airspace. Defense Minister Anita Anand’s office declined to comment on the situation.

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