UPDATED 11:48 AM PT – Monday, August 23, 2021
Kamala Harris flew to Singapore to “deepen ties” with the Southeast Asian nation and it appears as though she brought all of the Biden administration’s geopolitical baggage with her.
On Sunday, Harris was greeted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien with the intent to discuss China’s ongoing encroachment into the South China Sea and the threat posed to countries in the region like Singapore.
“I am standing here in Singapore because of our commitment to a long standing relationship, which is an enduring relationship with the Indo-Pacific region, with Southeast Asian countries and, in particular, with Singapore,” she stated. “The agreements that the prime minister and I have reached today are evidence of that enduring relationship and commitment.”
Harris went on to commend Singapore for managing to keep the most recent COVID surge at bay.
“We discussed the importance of working together to end this pandemic, but also to prevent future pandemics,” she continued. “Singapore’s approach to managing the pandemic has been commendable, but we all must do more to not only end the current pandemic but to invest in what we know will be more.”
After my meeting with Prime Minister @leehsienloong, the U.S. and Singapore announced important, new agreements. We will protect the national security of both our countries, foster economic growth, end this pandemic, address the climate crisis, and more. https://t.co/VLzWrOilur
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 23, 2021
Though she tried to steer the conversation elsewhere, Afghanistan quickly became the only thing at the bilateral meeting anyone seemed interested in discussing.
“So, I understand and appreciate why you ask the question and I think there’s going to be plenty of time to analyze what has happened and what has taken place in the context of the withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Harris stated. “But right now, we are singularly focused on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who worked with us and Afghans who are vulnerable, including women and children.”
Even Prime Minister Lee seemed to hang on the subject while offering to lend the support of the island’s military to try and help get Americans and Afghans to safety.
“And on Afghanistan specifically, I mentioned to the Vice President that we knew that the U.S. was conducting an evacuation operation of refugees from Afghanistan and Singapore would offer, would like to offer to the U.S., the use of the RSAF Republic of Singapore Air Forces Airbus 330 multi-role tanker and transporter aircraft in order to help with the air lift.” he stated.
Lee went on to warn that he and all foreign leaders are watching the situation closely.
“Well, countries all over the region, and I’m sure all over the world, are watching developments in Afghanistan very closely,” he asserted. “Foremost in everybody’s minds is the safety and security of the civilians. And I hope all sides will work to ensure this.”