Vice President Kamala Harris said the evacuation of Americans and their allies in Afghanistan was the administration’s “highest priority”, while answering questions from reporters in Vietnam on Thursday.
She reiterated that the United States had already evacuated more than 80,000 people since the Taliban took Kabul earlier this month. Yet thousands of people remained in limbo, and the State Department issued a warning on Thursday urging people to stay away from Kabul airport due to an “imminent” terrorist threat.
“Every day and night we continue to evacuate thousands of people, realizing that it is risky for them to be there,” Harris told reporters in Hanoi, acknowledging that it was a “dangerous mission. and difficult, but it has to be done and we intend to do it the best we can. ”
When asked what the United States was going to do to help women and children in the country in particular, she said she had devoted “her entire career to protecting women and children.”
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She said the administration was working with allies to ensure that “we stay focused on this issue to do all we can” regarding the evacuations and to protect women living in the area.
The Taliban have made threats in the past against girls and women who go to school or work.
Harris ‘press conference came at the end of a short crossing of Southeast Asia, which also included Singapore, and sought to underscore the United States’ engagement in the region and counter that of Beijing.
She also hosted an event earlier today with LGBTQ and climate change activists and met with the prime minister and president of the country on Wednesday, pledging an additional 1 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to the country on top of the 5 million already sent. .
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In Singapore, she spoke bluntly about China.
“We know that Beijing continues to coerce, intimidate and claim the vast majority of the South China Sea,” she said in a foreign policy speech Tuesday in which she laid out the administration’s vision Biden for the Indo-Pacific. “Beijing’s actions continue to undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.”
Harris avoided the improvised blunders that overshadowed his first trip overseas, to Guatemala and Mexico in the spring, where his statement to migrants – “don’t come” – and his dismissal of questions about his refusal to visit the border was drew criticism from both sides of the aisle. Harris answered reporters’ questions at several points during this trip and sat down for a lengthy interview with cable.
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On his return trip, Harris will stop at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii to meet with the military. Next, she will focus on US politics at an event in the San Francisco area for Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom, who is facing an attempted recall.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.