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Kamala Harris says the U.S. is ‘singularly targeted’ on evacuating Individuals 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 Photographs

SINGAPORE — America’ major focus in Afghanistan proper now could be to evacuate Americans, Afghan allies and weak teams following the Taliban’s return to energy, Vice President Kamala Harris mentioned 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 subjects — from provide chain points to local weather change and tackling the worldwide well being disaster led to by the pandemic.

“Proper now we’re singularly targeted on evacuating Americans, Afghans who labored with us and Afghans who’re weak, together with girls and kids,” Harris mentioned, 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 positive that folk who helped us are secure,” Harris added, saying that there ought to be a “sturdy 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. Hundreds have flooded to the Kabul airport in hopes of escaping the nation.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden mentioned the U.S. has a “lengthy solution to go and quite a bit may nonetheless go flawed” within the evacuation from Kabul.

“The evacuation of hundreds of individuals from Kabul goes to be laborious and painful regardless of when it began, after we started,” the president mentioned throughout a press convention on the White Home. He additionally mentioned 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 prompted some to query Washington’s dedication to its allies.

James Crabtree, govt 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 assume she’s going to get lots of powerful questions on it, it may be hanging within the background of everyone’s minds,” Crabtree mentioned Monday on CNBC’s “Avenue 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 mentioned.

The vp arrived in Singapore on Sunday for her first official go to to Southeast Asia. The area is house to some 660 million individuals and a variety 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 — a vital industrial delivery route the place trillions of {dollars} of world commerce move by way of annually. Lately, 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 secure base for 20 years,” Lee mentioned. “For this, Singapore is grateful.”

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

The prime minister defined that what issues in the long term is how the U.S. repositions itself in Asia-Pacific and engages with nations within the area, together with on points just like the battle towards terrorism. He mentioned that may decide how nations understand the USA’ world priorities and strategic intentions.

“America is a worldwide chief. We take that position critically, understanding that now we have many pursuits and priorities world wide,” Harris mentioned, 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 improvement and now more and more world well being,” she mentioned.

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 improvement in addition to cybersecurity.

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