In the midst of the Afghan crisis, Kamala Harris embarks on a trip to Asia

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

After the tumultuous US exit from Afghanistan and Taliban takeover, Vice President Kamala Harris launched a journey to Asia on Sunday, where she will reassure Asian leaders of Washington's commitment to the region.

"The vice president will make clear throughout the trip that we do have an enduring commitment to the region," said a senior US official.

The extreme Islamists' quick return to power a week ago, as well as harrowing pictures of hundreds attempting to flee, have placed another cloud over the US' status as a global powerhouse.

However, during her trip, which will take her to Singapore and Vietnam, Harris will try to assuage fears about US reliance.

"The vice president will make clear throughout the trip that we do have an enduring commitment to the region," said a senior US official.

Harris, an Asian-American whose mother is of Indian descent, arrived in Singapore on Sunday and will meet with the city-authorities state's on Monday.

Some have criticized Harris for visiting the communist country while US forces struggle to evacuate Americans, other foreigners, and Afghan allies from Kabul airport.

The scenario has drawn analogies to the horrors of Saigon in 1975 when US helicopters transported the last evacuees off the embassy roof as Viet Cong troops neared.

The trip, however, was planned well before the Afghan disaster, according to US officials, and Harris is focused on Washington's broader strategic goals in Asia.

 

It is the latest visit to the area by a senior US official, as President Joe Biden's administration seeks to forge alliances against China and repair relations following Donald Trump's rocky presidency.

Strategic, economic importance:

At a time when China is challenging US political sway and naval dominance in the Indo-Pacific region, Southeast Asia remains "strategically important and economically important to this country", said a White House official, who asked not to be named.

"That hasn't changed with Afghanistan."

The ten-country region is becoming a hotbed of power struggles between the US and China, with Washington constantly criticizing Beijing's claims to nearly the entire South China Sea.

In the strategic sea, home to major maritime lanes, four Southeast Asian states — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam — as well as Taiwan, have overlapping claims with Beijing.

"Following the previous administration and what's happening in Afghanistan, it is a categorical imperative for the US to build up political trust in this region," said Mustafa Izzuddin, a senior international affairs analyst at consultancy Solaris Strategies Singapore.

Harris will meet with the president and prime minister of Singapore during her tour, as well as speak to US servicemen aboard the visiting USS Tulsa at the Changi Naval Base.

She will be the first US vice president to visit Vietnam, arriving in Hanoi late Tuesday.

She will attend Vietnamese government meetings, the launch of a Southeast Asian regional branch of the US Centers for Disease Control, and discussions with Vietnamese civil society organizations.

She'll also participate in a virtual gathering of Southeast Asian leaders focused on the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Source:- NDTV

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