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US Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in Singapore for official visit

SINGAPORE: United States Vice President Kamala Harris landed at Paya Lebar Air Base on Sunday (Aug 22) morning, kicking off a three-day visit to Singapore.

Ms Harris disembarked from the blue-and-white Air Force Two and gave a short wave.

She was greeted on the tarmac by Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. The receiving party included Singapore’s Ambassador to the US Ashok Mirpuri and Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Chee Wee Kiong.

US Vice President Kamala Harris being received by Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at Paya Lebar Air Base on Aug 22, 2021. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Singapore Rafik Mansour was also at the airport to welcome Ms Harris. 

In a statement on Sunday afternoon, he said the past 55 years of partnership between the US and Singapore are "just the beginning".

“Through our defence and security agreements, our first free trade agreement in Asia, and the deep ties between our people, our enduring relationship brings strength and stability to the United States, Singapore, and the entire Indo-Pacific region," he added. 

Ms Harris chatted with the delegation from Singapore and was soon ushered into one of two armoured sports utility vehicles belonging to the US Secret Service.

The extensive motorcade, comprising vans, buses and a police motorcycle then rumbled off, making a U-turn around Air Force Two before leaving the air base.

US Vice President Kamala Harris chats with Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and the US Embassy in Singapore's Chargé d'Affaires Rafik Mansour as she begins a 3-day visit to Singapore on Aug 22, 2021. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

This is Ms Harris’ first official visit to Asia, a trip which also includes Vietnam. The White House had said that her visit to Southeast Asia signals US commitment to the region and that it is "part of the Indo-Pacific".

Ms Harris is accompanied on this trip by senior officials from the Vice President's Office, National Security Council and Department of State.

The trip to Singapore, made at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, comes on the heels of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's tour of Southeast Asia, during which he made stops in Singapore, Vietnam and Philippines.

On Monday, Ms Harris will call on President Halimah Yacob and meet Mr Lee, before a joint press conference with the Prime Minister.

Ms Harris will also visit Changi Naval Base, where she will board the US Littoral Combat Ship USS Tulsa.

On Tuesday, Ms Harris will deliver a policy speech and participate in a roundtable with the business community involving Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, before departing for Vietnam for the second leg of her Asia trip.

Source: CNA/nh(ac)

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