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Kamala Harris says U.S. focus on Afghan evacuations, pledges open South China Sea

Economy Aug 23, 2021 06:42AM ET
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6/6 © Reuters. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in Singapore, August 22, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY 2/6

By Nandita Bose

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said on Monday during a visit to Singapore that the United States was focusing on evacuation efforts taking place in Afghanistan and that there would be plenty of time to analyse the context of the troop withdrawal.

Harris 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.

"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," Harris said during a joint news conference with Singapore's prime minister.

"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," said Harris.

U.S. President Joe Biden has faced criticism at home and abroad over his handling of the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the chaotic evacuation after the lightning takeover by the Taliban.

"We hope Afghanistan does not become an epicentre for terrorism again," said Lee, adding that Singapore had offered transport aircraft to help with evacuations.

Part of Harris's task during the trip will be convincing leaders in Singapore and Vietnam that Washington's commitment to Southeast Asia is firm and not a parallel to Afghanistan.

"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," Harris said.

Singapore's Lee said that perceptions of U.S. resolve and commitment to the region would be determined by "what the U.S. does going forward, how it repositions itself in the region, how it engages its broad range of friends and partners and allies..."

Singapore is not a U.S. treaty ally, but remains one of its strongest security partners in the region with deep trade ties. However, it also seeks to balance its relationships with the United States and China by not taking sides.

The country is home to the biggest port in Southeast Asia, and supports continued free navigation in the area, where China is growing increasingly assertive - a concern U.S. officials plan to address during Harris' visit to the region, which also includes a trip to Vietnam.

"I reaffirmed in our meeting the United States' commitment to working with our allies and partners around the Indo Pacific to uphold the rules based international order, and freedom of navigation, including in the South China Sea," said Harris.

The disputed South China Sea, a strategic waterway with potential oil and gas riches, has competing claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

SECURITY, CYBER AGREEMENTS

The United States and Singapore reached security agreements on Monday that reaffirm America's presence in the region through "rotational deployments of U.S. P-8 aircraft and littoral combat ships to Singapore," according to a fact sheet of the meeting shared by the White House.

The United States and Singapore also agreed to expand cybersecurity cooperation in the financial sector, the military and enhance information exchange on cyber threats, according to details shared by the White House.

Cybersecurity has risen to the top of the agenda for the Biden administration after a series of high-profile attacks https://reut.rs/381vyis that affected fuel and food supplies in parts of the United States.

Other initiatives include starting a U.S.-Singapore dialogue on building supply chains.

The Biden White House is tackling a severe supply shortage of semiconductor chips in the United States that has seriously hurt car manufacturers and contributed to inflation.

The countries also struck a partnership to fight COVID-19 and prepare for the next pandemic and agreed to tackle the global climate crisis, promote smart cities and green building standards throughout ASEAN.

Harris will also visit Singapore's Changi Naval Base and tour the USS Tulsa combat ship during the trip to Singapore.

Kamala Harris says U.S. focus on Afghan evacuations, pledges open South China Sea
 

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Comments (24)
Lim Mag St
Lim Mag St Aug 23, 2021 4:50AM ET
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Lost in Transit, get back to yr Indian Ocean
Gustavo Lopez
Gustavo Lopez Aug 23, 2021 3:11AM ET
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How can we bring trump back? Serious question.
David David
David9 Aug 23, 2021 3:11AM ET
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Trump has messed up so badly that there is zero chance he can ever be in office again... at least not in this life time...
David David
David9 Aug 23, 2021 3:04AM ET
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The title is propaganda... there is zero chance we can get Singapore to take sides. Singapore is smart to be neutral.
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Aug 23, 2021 2:55AM ET
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She can forget about forging ties with other nations for her future presidential campaign, i will definitely NOT vote for her!
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Aug 23, 2021 2:54AM ET
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Definitely evil plans in the hatching. evil meeting the evil.
Benoit Avril
Benoit Avril Aug 23, 2021 2:11AM ET
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The level of hate around here is pretty impressive.
Vitality life
Vitality life Aug 23, 2021 1:39AM ET
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Tr/ash !!! Embarass
Justin Riley
Justin Riley Aug 23, 2021 1:39AM ET
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And these people are supposed to be the adults? What a joke, go back to the faculty lounge. Elitist education and class does not equal success. Ever heard of street smarts? Yeah these people have none.
Vitality life
Vitality life Aug 23, 2021 1:39AM ET
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William Smith
William Smith Aug 23, 2021 12:49AM ET
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What a joke. On a 1-1,000,000 scale she is countering China's influence at ZERO.
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Aug 23, 2021 12:02AM ET
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evil
Mark Stallone
Mark Stallone Aug 22, 2021 11:38PM ET
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Seems like good timing. lol.
Rambi Zambi
Rambi Zambi Aug 22, 2021 11:38PM ET
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Lol
 
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