Singapore, Aug 23 (FN Agency) US Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday stressed America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region amid the growing clout of China and working with allies and partners to uphold the rules-based international order and freedom of navigation, including in the South China Sea. Harris spoke of a “shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region” as she visited the city-state at the start of a trip to Southeast Asia. “The reason I am here is because the United States is a global leader, and we take that role seriously,” she told reporters. Harris held talks with Singapore leaders during the day that focused on the need for cooperation to end the coronavirus pandemic and to prevent future ones from occurring, and climate crisis.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of working together as partners on the issue of global health,” she said. The US and Singapore have agreed to cooperate on an effort to identify new coronavirus variants and to boost preparedness in Southeast Asia. Harris is scheduled to meet business leaders on Tuesday as part of a joint effort to shore up supply chains. Late on Tuesday, Harris arrives in Vietnam, becoming the first USA vice president to visit Hanoi, as Washington seeks to bolster international support to counter China’s growing global influence. Her visit follows Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s late July visit to the same two countries and the Philippines.