© EVELYN HOCKSTEIN Vice President Kamala Harris was welcomed by Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan (C)
Vice President Kamala Harris began a trip to Asia Sunday where she will offer reassurances of Washington’s commitment to the region after the chaotic US pullout from Afghanistan and Taliban takeover.
The hardline Islamists’ swift return to power a week ago, and desperate scenes of thousands trying to flee, have cast another shadow over the United States’ status as a global superpower.
But on her visit, which includes stops in Singapore and Vietnam, Harris will seek to allay concerns about US dependability.
“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 was of Indian origin, landed in Singapore Sunday and will start her activities Monday by meeting the city-state’s leaders.
The Vietnam leg has sparked criticism, with some accusing Harris of being tone-deaf for visiting the communist country as US forces struggle to evacuate Americans, other foreigners and Afghan allies from Kabul airport.
© EVELYN HOCKSTEIN US Vice President Kamala Harris aims to underline Washington’s commitment to Asia during her trip to Singapore and Vietnam
The crisis has prompted comparisons with the trauma of 1975 Saigon, when US helicopters ferried final evacuees from the embassy roof, as Viet Cong troops advanced.
US officials say the trip was planned long before the Afghan debacle, however — and insist Harris is focused on Washington’s broader strategic goals in Asia.
Video: Harris’ Asia trip carries new urgency after Afghan collapse (Associated Press)
Harris’ Asia trip carries new urgency after Afghan collapse