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Kamala Harris Meets Singapore Officials On First Stage Of Southeast Asia Trip

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US Vice-President Kamala Harris has met with Singapore’s leaders to kick off a visit to South-East Asia focused on strengthening ties with key allies in the region. Ms Harris met with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Halimah Yacob on Monday and will hold talks with Vietnam’s leaders later this week. 

Vice President Kamala Harris stated during her visit to Singapore that the US were now focusing on evacuation efforts taking place in Afghanistan and that there will be plenty of time to analyse the context of the troop withdrawal. She met with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Halimah Yacob during a trip aimed at bolstering ties with partners in the region as part of Washington’s efforts to counter China’s growing economic and security influence.

Harris stated during a joint news conference with Singapore’s prime minister, “There is going to be plenty of time to analyse what has happened and what has taken place in the context of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. But right now we are singularly focused on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who have worked with us and Afghans who are vulnerable, including women and children and that is our singular focus at this time.”

On Tuesday, Harris will deliver a speech outlining the Biden administration’s vision for the region, and meet with business leaders to discuss supply chain issues.

The trip marks Harris’ second foreign trip — she visited Guatemala and Mexico in June — and will be the first time a U.S. vice president has visited Vietnam.

President Joe Biden has been facing criticism at home and abroad for his handling of the withdrawal of IS forces and the chaotic evacuation after the lightning takeover by the Taliban. Lee stated, “We hope Afghanistan does not become an epicentre for terrorism again.” He also added that Singapore had offered transport aircraft to help with the evacuations.

Part of Harris’s task during the trip is to convinced leaders in Singapore and Vietnam that Washington’s commitment to Southeast Asia is firm and not parallel to Afghanistan. She stated, “Today, we are in Singapore to stress and reaffirm our enduring relationship to this country and in this region and to reinforce a shared vision of a free and open Indo Pacific region.”

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