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Kamala Harris says the U.S. is ‘singularly centered’ on evacuating People and Afghan allies

US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) is welcomed by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) on the Istana in Singapore, on August 23, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | AFP | Getty Pictures

SINGAPORE — The US’ main focus in Afghanistan proper now’s to evacuate Americans, Afghan allies and susceptible teams following the Taliban’s return to energy, Vice President Kamala Harris stated Monday.

Harris spoke to reporters throughout a joint press convention with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong following an earlier assembly the place the 2 leaders mentioned a broad vary of matters — from provide chain points to local weather change and tackling the worldwide well being disaster caused by the pandemic.

“Proper now we’re singularly centered on evacuating Americans, Afghans who labored with us and Afghans who’re susceptible, together with girls and youngsters,” Harris stated, responding to a reporter’s query on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

“We now have a duty and we really feel a deep dedication to creating certain that folk who helped us are protected,” Harris added, saying that there must be a “strong evaluation of what occurred” later.

Learn extra on the developments in Afghanistan:

The Biden administration is dealing with mounting criticism over its dealing with of the U.S. navy withdrawal from Afghanistan. The nation plunged into chaos final week after the civilian authorities collapsed and the Taliban took energy. 1000’s have flooded to the Kabul airport in hopes of escaping the nation.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden stated the U.S. has a “lengthy technique to go and so much might nonetheless go incorrect” within the evacuation from Kabul.

“The evacuation of hundreds of individuals from Kabul goes to be arduous and painful regardless of when it began, once we started,” the president stated throughout a press convention on the White Home. He additionally stated that “our hope is that we are going to not have to increase” the Aug. 31 deadline to exit Afghanistan.

U.S. credibility at stake

The developments in Afghanistan have precipitated some to query Washington’s dedication to its allies.

James Crabtree, government director for the Asia program on the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research, informed CNBC that Harris’ journey is an try to reassure allies and companions in Southeast Asia that the Biden administration has not forgotten about them.

“Whereas I do not suppose she’s going to get a variety of powerful questions on it, it may be hanging within the background of everyone’s minds,” Crabtree stated Monday on CNBC’s “Road Indicators Asia” earlier than the press convention.

“What does this imply about American reliability on this area given so many individuals are asking questions on America’s reliability in central Asia?” he stated.

The vp arrived in Singapore on Sunday for her first official go to to Southeast Asia. The area is dwelling to some 660 million individuals and a lot of fast-growing economies together with Vietnam, which she is ready to go to on Tuesday earlier than departing the area Thursday. Her go to comes as tensions between the U.S. and China proceed to rise.

Southeast Asia is a strategic area for U.S. pursuits due to the South China Sea — an important industrial transport route the place trillions of {dollars} of worldwide commerce cross by every year. In recent times, China has stepped up its financial and political affect within the area.

‘Extraordinarily tough’ scenario for Biden

Singapore Prime Minister Lee informed reporters that the Biden administration inherited an “extraordinarily tough” scenario and that the city-state understands the explanations behind the troop withdrawal.

“The U.S. intervention has stopped terrorist teams from utilizing Afghanistan as a protected base for 20 years,” Lee stated. “For this, Singapore is grateful.”

“We hope Afghanistan doesn’t turn out to be an epicenter for terrorism,” he added.

The prime minister defined that what issues in the long run is how the U.S. repositions itself in Asia-Pacific and engages with nations within the area, together with on points just like the struggle in opposition to terrorism. He stated that can decide how nations understand the USA’ world priorities and strategic intentions.

“The US is a worldwide chief. We take that function significantly, understanding that we now have many pursuits and priorities world wide,” Harris stated, emphasizing she was in Singapore to reaffirm Washington’s enduring relationships.

“I am right here in Singapore as a reaffirmation of our dedication to our membership within the Indo-Pacific area, our longstanding partnerships with Southeast Asia and a longstanding relationship with Singapore because it pertains to our points and our mutual points on safety and financial energy and growth and now more and more world well being,” she stated.

The U.S. and Singapore additionally introduced a number of partnerships within the works meant to strengthen bilateral and regional collaboration in commerce and funding, local weather, environmental governance, sustainable growth in addition to cybersecurity.

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