HONG KONG - China said on Friday that a balloon that is flying over the United States is for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes and that it regrets that the airship strayed into U.S. airspace.

In a statement late on Friday, China's foreign ministry also said that it will continue to maintain communications with the United States to properly handle the unexpected situation.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)