US seeks to grow Southeast Asia ties with vaccine donations

Edit 1: Updates text throughout

By Eric San Juan

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Aug 25 (EFE).- The United States looked to strengthen its influence in Southeast Asia by supporting the fight against Covid-19 through Vice President Kamala Harris’ Wednesday visit to Vietnam, where she announced the donation of jabs and a new regional disease control center.

Harris pledged to donate 1 million doses from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which will arrive in the next 24 hours in addition to the 5 million vaccines the US donated to Vietnam in recent months, as the country fights to stop its most devastating outbreak.

“I know that the Vietnamese population is facing a difficult time now,” said Harris, who became the first American vice president to visit the country, meeting the country’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

The vice president said since the official start of her Southeast Asia tour Monday in Singapore, that the US committed to collaborate with countries in the area in the fight against the pandemic. She added that the donation of vaccines and personal protective equipment do not carry compensation because “it is about saving lives.”

Vaccines are an essential part of the Joe Bien Administration’s strategy to gain influence in Southeast Asia, a region dominated by the Chinese despite having received a fifth of the 110 million doses donated by the United States in the world. .

The US donation to Vietnam was made public a day after the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry thanked Beijing for the commitment to deliver an additional 2 million vaccines, without specifying the company.

Vietnam is one of the countries in the area with the greatest diversity in the origin of its donations and acquisitions, but a large part of the region has mainly opted for Chinese vaccines.

In addition, support in the fight against Covid-19 from the United States to Vietnam will include the donation of $ 23 million in technical assistance against the pandemic to facilitate access to vaccines and medicines and the distribution of 77 special freezers to store the dose.

During the afternoon, Harris presided over the creation of the US Center for Disease Control in Southeast Asia in Hanoi, in which the ministers of Health of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Papua New Guinea participated online.

The objective of the center, one of only four of its kind in the world, is to work with the countries of the region to improve the capacity to respond and anticipate health emergencies.

On the other hand, Harris agreed with Vietnamese leaders for greater cooperation in the fight against the global climate crisis, in which Vietnam is especially vulnerable, and an economic cooperation reinforcement. They agreed on support for the digital transition and women entrepreneurs as well as a tariff reduction on importing pork from the US to Vietnam.

The vice president also discussed the legacy of the Vietnam War, with the contribution of 17.5 million dollars for the cleaning of explosives in areas especially affected during the conflict and supporting victims’ groups.

Harris will conclude her Southeast Asia tour Thursday in Hanoi, having tried to reinforce the influence of the United States in the area, after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit last month to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. EFE


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