Kamala Harris says the U.S. is 'singularly focused' on evacuating Americans and Afghan allies

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US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) is welcomed by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) at the Istana in Singapore, on August 23, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — The United States’ primary focus in Afghanistan right now is to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies and vulnerable groups following the Taliban’s return to power, Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday.

Harris spoke to reporters during a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong following an earlier meeting where the two leaders discussed a broad range of topics — from supply chain issues to climate change and tackling the global health crisis brought about by the pandemic.

“Right now we are singularly focused on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who worked with us and Afghans who are vulnerable, including women and children,” Harris said, responding to a reporter’s question on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

“We have a responsibility and we feel a deep commitment to making sure that folks who helped us are safe,” Harris added, saying that there should be a “robust analysis of what happened” later.

Read more on the developments in Afghanistan:

The Biden administration is facing mounting criticism over its handling of U.S. withdrawal efforts, which have plunged Afghanistan into chaos as the civilian government collapsed and the Taliban took power. Thousands have flooded to the Kabul airport in hopes of escaping the country.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden said the U.S. has a “long way to go and a lot could still go wrong” in the evacuation from Kabul.

“The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful no matter when it started, when we began,” the president said during a press conference at the White House. He also said that “our hope is that we will not have to extend” the Aug. 31 deadline to exit Afghanistan.

U.S. credibility at stake

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