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Harris says U.S. is solely focused on evacuating Americans & Afghan allies

Harris says U.S. is solely focused on evacuating Americans & Afghan allies

August 24, 2021: -On Monday, the U.S’ primary focus in Afghanistan currently is to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies, and vulnerable groups after the Taliban’s return to power, Vice President Kamala Harris said.

Harris spoke to reporters in a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after a meeting wherein they discussed supply chain issues to climate change and tackling the global health crisis brought about by the pandemic.

“Currently, we are singularly focused on evacuating American citizens, Afghans working with us, and Afghans who are vulnerable, which include women and children,” Harris said to a reporter on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

“We have a responsibility, and we feel a deep commitment to ensuring that folks that helped us are safe,” Harris further said, adding that there should be a “robust analysis of what happened” later.

The Biden administration faces mounting criticism over its U.S. withdrawal efforts, which plunged Afghanistan into chaos as the civilian government collapses and the Taliban took over. Thousands have flooded to the Kabul airport to escape the country.

President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the U.S. has a “long way to go, and a lot could still go wrong” in the Kabul evacuation.

“The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful no matter when it started, when we started,” the president said during a press conference at the White House. He also said that “we hope that we will not have to extend” the August 31 deadline to exit Afghanistan.

The developments in Afghanistan have caused some to question Washington’s commitment to its allies.

James Crabtree, executive director for the Asia program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told CNBC that Harris’ trip attempts to reassure allies and partners in Southeast Asia that the Biden administration has not forgotten about them.

On Sunday, the vice president arrived in Singapore for her first official visit to Southeast Asia. The region is home to 660 million people and several fast-growing economies, which also include Vietnam, which she is scheduled to visit on Tuesday before departing the area on Thursday. Her visit concerns the U.S. and China increasingly.

Southeast Asia is a strategic region for U.S. interests due to the South China Sea. On this crucial commercial shipping route, trillions of dollars of global trade pass through each year. In the past years, China has stepped up its economic and political influence in the region.

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