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US Vice President Kamala Harris to make first official visit to Singapore, Vietnam

US Vice President Kamala Harris to make first official visit to Singapore, Vietnam

FILE PHOTO: US Vice-President Kamala Harris waves as she boards her plane at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Romulus, Michigan, on Jul 12, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

SINGAPORE: US Vice President Kamala Harris will make her first official visit to Singapore and Vietnam next month, the White House announced on Friday (Jul 30), adding that the trip is aimed at strengthening ties with "two critical Indo-Pacific partners".

Her visit to Singapore comes at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“Vice President Harris’s visit affirms the strength of the relationship between our two countries," said Mr Lee's press secretary.

She added that Mrs Harris will meet Singapore leaders and discuss ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in multiple areas, including defence, cybersecurity, digital trade, climate change and the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Lee said he is "delighted" to welcome Mrs Harris on her first official visit to Singapore.

"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," he added.

Mrs Harris' trip to Vietnam will be the first by a US vice president. 

"President Biden and Vice President Harris have made it a top priority to rebuild our global partnerships and keep our nation secure, and this upcoming visit continues that work – deepening our engagement in Southeast Asia," the White House said in a statement.

"The vice president will also affirm and celebrate the strong cultural and people-to-people ties between the United States and these countries."

READ: Singapore, US affirm 'vital' American presence in region as defence chiefs meet

The last visit to Singapore by a US vice president was in November 2018, by then-office holder Mike Pence.

Mrs Harris' visit comes after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made his inaugural trip to Singapore this week, as part of his introductory tour of Southeast Asia.

Mr Austin also visited Vietnam and the Philippines.

While in Singapore, he met with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Mr Lee, as well as signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter training detachment in Guam.

Mr Biden also nominated a new ambassador to Singapore on Thursday.

Jonathan Kaplan, described by the White House as an "entrepreneur and innovator", is currently the chairperson of non-profit organisation EducationSuperHighway. He also formerly held the position of chairman and CEO at several companies.

Source: CNA/reuters/ga

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