US laser focused on evacuation in Afghanistan, grateful to partners like Singapore: US V-P Kamala Harris

SINGAPORE – The United States is “laser focused” on evacuating its citizens, as well as international partners and those who have helped it, from Afghanistan, visiting US Vice-President Kamala Harris said on Tuesday (Aug 24).

“We were at war in Afghanistan for 20 long years. Many members of our military gave their lives in Afghanistan, as did many from our allies and partners,” she said.

“Months ago, President Joe Biden made the courageous and right decision to end this war because we had achieved what we went there to do.”

Ms Harris began her speech on US policy and partnerships in the region by saying she was aware that the eyes of the world are on Afghanistan.

She also thanked the American servicemen as well as international partners involved in the ongoing evacuation operation which comes as the Taleban regained control of much of the country.

“The United States has been focused on safely evacuating American citizens, international partners, Afghans who worked side by side with us, and other Afghans at risk,” she said.

“We are laser focused on the task at hand, and we are extremely grateful to our men and women in uniform and embassy staff who are on the ground, as we speak, making this historic airlift happen in an incredibly difficult and dangerous environment.”

Ms Harris’ speech at Gardens by the Bay, which focused on US policy in the Indo-Pacific, was hosted by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, as well as the US Embassy in Singapore.

Ms Harris, who leaves here for Vietnam on Tuesday, also expressed how grateful the US is to its international partners – including Singapore – for working with it to evacuate people from Afghanistan.

On Monday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore would be offering the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport to help with evacuation efforts.  This comes after Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, fell to the Taleban on Aug 15.

Thousands of people have over the past week been trying to get into Kabul’s international airport in the hope of getting on an evacuation flight. These included Afghans who had helped the US and its allies over the past two decades by working as translators for military operations.

Since then, the Taleban has sought to get the situation under control by firing guns into the air and using batons to force people to form queues outside the airport.