United States Vice President Kamala Harris on August 23 said that the country has a “responsibility” and a “deep commitment” to ensuring that Afghanistan nationals, who helped America, are safe. While the Taliban captured Afghanistan on August 15 after marching in Kabul, Harris on August 22 arrived in Singapore to kickstart her Asia trip and reiterating Washington’s commitment to the region following the pullout of the US forces from war-torn Afghanistan.
Lauding President Joe Biden for showcasing ‘sadness’ regarding the chaos unfolding in Afghanistan, Harris said that the government cannot deviate from its “primary goal” of evacuating citizens “who deserve to be evacuated.” In a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, US Vice President said that Washington is “singularly focussed” on getting people out of Afghanistan while also calling for a “robust analysis of what happened” later.
“Right now we are singularly focused on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who worked with us and Afghans who are vulnerable, including women and children,” Harris said. “We have a responsibility and we feel a deep commitment to making sure that folks who helped us are safe,” she added.
Thank you Foreign Minister @VivianBala for welcoming me to Singapore. Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific are critically important to the security and prosperity of the United States. pic.twitter.com/TZjFukDeeA— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 22, 2021
Earlier, Biden had already made it 'clear' in a press briefing that "the evacuation of thousands from Kabul is going to be hard and painful" and it would have been the same "no matter when it began." The US President clarified that evacuations could go beyond the deadline set for next week. The American troops, whose withdrawal met with Taliban re-conquering the country after two decades, has already overseen the evacuations of around 30,000 people since the insurgents entered the Afghan capital, Kabul. He added, "We have a long way to go and a lot could still go wrong."
Meanwhile, Singapore PM Lee also acknowledged that US President Joe Biden’s administration inherited an “extremely difficult” situation while noting that the city-state understands the reasons behind the American troop withdrawal which is being criticised even by fellow Democrats in the US. Lee said, “The US intervention has stopped terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a safe base for 20 years... For this, Singapore is grateful.”
“We hope Afghanistan does not become an epicentre for terrorism,” he added while explaining that what matters, in the long run, is how the United States relocates itself in Asia-pacific and exchanges views with countries in the region on issues such as fighting terrorism. He said, “Because that will determine the perceptions of the countries, of the US global priorities and of its strategic intentions.”