Joe Biden says there is no evidence of a “sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky”.

President Joe Biden made his first broad comments on the discovery and shooting down of three unidentified aerial objects in separate incidents on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Biden said that, as debris is being recovered from the objects, “we still don’t know what those three objects were.”

“But nothing right now suggests that they were related to China’s spy balloon program. Or they were some other country’s surveillance vehicle,” Biden said. “The current assessment of the intelligence community is that the three objects were likely balloons used by private organizations, recreational or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”

Biden also said that “we have no evidence that the number of objects in the sky has suddenly increased. We are seeing more of them now, in part because of steps to enhance our radar system.”

Three objects were discovered over Alaska, Canada and then Lake Huron, sparking intense speculation after a Chinese spy balloon spotted them earlier. Press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said earlier this week there was no evidence the objects were extraterrestrial. The object floated over the continental United States until it was shot down by the US military off the coast of South Carolina.

Biden said he ordered that the last three objects be shot down because of the risk to commercial air travel.

He also said he hopes to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the Chinese balloon.

“We are not looking for a new Cold War, but I make no apologies and we will compete, and we will manage that competition responsibly so that it does not escalate into conflict,” Biden said.

The president defended the decision not to shoot the Chinese balloon as it floated to the ground. “Because we knew its path, we were able to protect sensitive sites against collection,” he said. “We waited until it was safely above water, which would not only protect civilians, but also allow us to collect enough material for further analysis.”

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