Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday the Biden administration’s focus in Afghanistan is evacuating American citizens and at-risk Afghan allies.
Questions about the administration’s handling of the withdrawal effort would be answered after all at-risk individuals in Afghanistan are out of the country, Harris said during a joint press briefing with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
— U.S. Embassy Singapore (@RedWhiteBlueDot) August 23, 2021
“I think there’s going to be plenty of time to analyze what has happened and what has taken place in the context of the withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Harris said. “But right now, we are singularly focused on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who worked with us and Afghans who are vulnerable, including women and children. That has to be our primary focus and where we are placing our attention on the issue of Afghanistan.”
She also mentioned a “successful drawdown of the embassy … without any American casualties.”
“We have seen thousands of people who have been … evacuated from the airport in Afghanistan, where the United States military – doing very hard and difficult work – were able to contain that airport so that we could successfully evacuate the people who have been evacuated so far,” Harris said.
Asked if she was “satisfied” with her administration’s withdrawal effort, Harris said there would be a “robust analysis of what has happened” after the evacuation effort has concluded.
Harris’ comments on Monday were her most extensive remarks on the issue, The Hill reported. Afghanistan was the primary topic of Monday’s press conference with Lee, but her trip’s focus is on new partnerships between the U.S. and Singapore surrounding climate change and cybersecurity.
Lee expressed gratitude to the U.S. and backed President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan. (RELATED: Taliban Issues Direct Threat To Joe Biden)
“The U.S. intervention has stopped terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a safe base for 20 years. For this, Singapore is grateful,” Lee said. “We hope Afghanistan does not become an epicenter for terrorism again. And post Afghanistan, in the longer term, what matters is how the U.S. repositions itself in the Asia Pacific, engages the broader region, and continues the fight against terrorism, because that will determine the perceptions of the countries of the U.S. global priorities and of its strategic intentions.”
The Biden administration said it had evacuated around 37,000 people from Afghanistan by Monday, the Hill reported. It has not said how many Americans remain in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration is considering extending the Aug. 31 deadline to evacuate the remaining U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans.
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