Vice President Kamala Harris is set to travel to Vietnam and Singapore later this month, becoming the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit Asia so far.
Details of such a trip are not final yet, but the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be on Harris’s agenda, source familiar with the matter said
“Her trip will build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s message to the world: America is back,” her office said in a statement.
The statement continued, “Our Administration sees Asia as a critically important region in the world. The Vice President’s visit will emphasize the importance of comprehensive engagement and strategic partnerships — key components of our Administration’s approach to foreign policy.”
During meetings with government officials, the private sector, and civil society leaders, Harris will share the Biden administration’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, her office said, raise trade and security issues, including in the South China Sea, and promote economic cooperation.
According to CNN, Kamala Harris will travel August 20 to August 26.
Harris’ chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, said in a statement announcing the trip that the vice president will “engage the leaders of both governments on issues of mutual interest,” noting that regional security, the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change will be areas of discussion.
Harris will become the first vice president ever to visit Vietnam, per Sanders, and more broadly, it will be her first trip to the region as vice president and second international trip since taking office. Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico in early June as part of the administration’s efforts to stem migration from the Northern Triangle, a trip marked by political missteps.
The US President Joe Biden has yet to travel to the region since taking office, but the White House has underscored the importance of US relationships in the region with the first two world leaders to visit the White House in person, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Biden has repeatedly said that a central challenge of this moment is whether democracy can prevail over autocracy, with those regional partnerships crucial to his efforts to counter China’s growing influence, according to CNN.
By Betsy Klein