US Vice President may visit Vietnam

US Vice President Kamala Harris may visit Vietnam during her trip to Southeast Asia in August.

US Vice President Kamala Harris could visit Vietnam and Singapore in August, although no final decision has been made on the details of the visit, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on July 26.

The source said that the coronavirus pandemic could be on Harris’ agenda.

The White House did not immediately respond to VOA’s request for comment on the upcoming visit of the US vice president.

The Biden-Harris administration this month has twice announced its support for vaccines for Vietnam, which is battling its worst outbreak since the pandemic began. Through the global vaccine sharing mechanism COVAX, the US has sent 5 million doses of Moderna to Vietnam, of which 3 million doses in the second batch were sent to Vietnam over the weekend. Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc on July 25 said that the US side is considering giving more vaccines to Vietnam in the near future.

If realized, this will be Vice President Harris’ first visit to Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Vietnam and Singapore are also the destinations of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week when the head of the Pentagon makes his first visit to three Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on July 19 that Secretary Austin’s visit “will demonstrate the importance the Biden-Harris administration places on Southeast Asia and ASEAN as a vital part of the Indo-Pacific regional architecture.”

The US considers Vietnam a key leader in the region and an important partner in the US strategy in the Asia-Pacific in the context that Washington wants to curb Beijing’s growing influence in the region. Vietnam was specifically named as a partner targeted by the United States to deepen regional security cooperation in the Interim Guidance on National Security Strategy released by the Biden-Harris administration in March.

It is expected that Minister Austin will come to Vietnam on July 28 for a two-day visit. According to Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang, at a regular press conference on July 22, the discussion between the US Secretary of Defense and Vietnamese leaders will aim to guide the goal to strengthen the cooperative relationship between the two countries, implement the agreement between the two countries’ senior leaders, and contribute to strengthening cooperation within the framework of the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the US, according to Tuoi Tre newspaper. (Translated)