U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday he will make no apologies for shooting down a Chinese balloon earlier this month but added that nothing so far suggests three unidentified aerial objects subsequently destroyed by the military were related to spying by Beijing.

Biden told reporters that the objects also did not appear to be linked to surveillance vehicles from other countries and that they were most likely tied to "private companies, recreation or research institutions" based on the intelligence community's assessment, while the military is still trying to recover them.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the Chinese surveillance balloon and other unidentified objects shot down by the U.S. military on Feb. 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP/Kyodo)

"We're not looking for a new Cold War, but I make...no apologies and we will compete and we will responsibly manage that competition so that it doesn't veer into conflict," he said at the White House, in his most lengthy remarks since the balloon and other objects were taken down.

There was no need to apologize to China as the United States had sent a "clear message" that "the violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable. We will act to protect our country, and we did," he said.

The president, who has faced mounting calls from lawmakers to further explain the episode to the public, said the discovery of the balloon had underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the two countries' diplomats and military officers.

Biden also said he is willing to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping, without specifying when that could happen, and that he wants to "get to the bottom of this."

The discovery in U.S. airspace of the giant balloon, equipped with antennas and solar panels, led Secretary of State Antony Blinken to put off a scheduled visit to Beijing and sparked ongoing tit-for-tat verbal exchanges between the two countries.

China has insisted that the balloon, which was shot down by a fighter jet on Feb. 4 off South Carolina after traversing the continental United States for about a week, was being used for weather research and had been blown off course, accusing Washington of overreacting.

Amid public frenzy about mysterious craft above the United States and many other countries, Biden said he wanted to be clear that Washington has no evidence of a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky.

"We're now just seeing more of them, partially because (of) the steps we've taken to increase our radars," he said.

On Sunday, a U.S. fighter jet shot down an unidentified object flying over Lake Huron in Michigan on the orders of Biden.

It was the third day in a row that the military had shot down an unidentified object, an unusual development in peacetime. In the previous two days, objects were brought down over Alaska and Canada's Yukon territory, with U.S. officials saying the three were much smaller and flying at far lower altitudes than the balloon.

Biden touched on the need to craft "sharper rules" to better deal with unidentified aerial objects as it is difficult to draw a line between "those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not."

Biden disclosed that he had ordered national security adviser Jake Sullivan to lead a "government-wide effort" to prepare for similar encounters in the future and said, "Make no mistake, if any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people I will take it down."

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