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Vice President Kamala Harris visits Vietnam and Singapore amid tensions with China

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she steps onto Air Force Two on June 14, 2021 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Singapore and Vietnam next month to strengthen US ties and economic ties with the Indo-Pacific region, the White House said in a statement on Friday.

Harris will be the first U.S. Vice President to visit Vietnam and the highest-ranking official in the Biden government to visit the Indo-Pacific and Asia as a whole. Indo-Pacific refers to the region that lies between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and borders Japan, India, and Australia.

The visit comes as the government works to strengthen regional ties with the Southeast Asian nations while reducing China’s influence in the region and globally.

“President [Joe] Biden and Vice President Harris have made rebuilding our global partnerships and protecting our nation a top priority, and this upcoming visit will continue that work – and deepen our commitment to Southeast Asia, “said Symone Sanders, Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson by Harris in the White House statement.

The White House did not provide any information about the travel dates. It will also be Harris’ second international trip in office after visiting Guatemala and Mexico in June as part of her diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration to the US

Harris will meet with Singapore and Vietnam leaders to discuss regional security, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, according to the White House. It will also discuss joint efforts with leaders to “promote a rules-based international order”.

The announcement also comes just days after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s own trip to Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam to provide assistance to Southeast Asian nations as territorial rifts develop with China.

The vice president’s visit confirms the strength of US-Singapore ties, the Business Times reported.

Harris will meet with Singapore leaders to discuss collaboration opportunities in areas such as defense, digital commerce and cybersecurity, according to the Business Times.

“I am delighted to welcome Vice President Harris on her first official visit to Singapore,” said the Business Times statement. “I look forward to our discussions on strengthening bilateral cooperation and working together on global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.”

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