Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to Vietnam on Tuesday was delayed for hours because of concerns about “an anomalous health incident” in Hanoi, according to the State Department.
“Earlier this evening, the vice president’s traveling delegation was delayed from departing Singapore because the vice president’s office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi, Vietnam,” the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said in a statement. “After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the vice president’s trip.”
Bloomberg News reported that the term has special meaning. “The State Department has frequently used the phrase ‘anomalous health incidents’ to describe so-called Havana Syndrome, which has afflicted dozens of U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials who describe feeling ill and other unusual physical sensations after hearing strange sounds. The U.S. has not determined a cause for the affliction, and the White House on Tuesday declined to say if the individual’s symptoms were similar to those in other Havana Syndrome cases.”
Harris, who is on a week-long tour of Asia, was scheduled to leave Singapore at 4 p.m. local time, but reporters traveling with the vice president “were abruptly sent back to the Shangri-La hotel shortly after 3:30 p.m. local time after being loaded into vans for the planned departure from Paya Lebar Air Base. Her plane eventually took off at around 7:30 p.m. local time,” Bloomberg reported.
Harris’ office did not explain the delay. Her spokeswoman Symone Sanders told reporters before takeoff: “You saw her get onto the plane. She is well. All is fine,” The Daily Mail reported.
In Singapore, Harris said it’s “time to start buying” toys. Addressing a roundtable of business leaders after delivering a speech, the vice president cited climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic as adverse effects on the supply chain.
“The stories that we are now hearing about the caution that if you want to have Christmas toys for your children, it might now be might be [sic] the time to start buying them, because the delay may be many, many months,” she said.
“So across the board, people are experiencing the issue. And, of course, the climate crisis is fueling a lot of this. When we look at the stronger typhoons that have disrupted shipping lanes and sea level rise, which threatens port infrastructure as an example. So these are the many issues that are that are causing these disruptions,” Harris said.
The vice president on Sunday high-tailed it out of D.C. for a week-long Asia tour. While she has so far mostly dodged the topic of Afghanistan in her comments, her first stop brought a slight diss from a foreign leader.
During an appearance alongside Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, both leaders were asked about the disastrous U.S. withdrawal.
“I understand and appreciate why you asked the question. And 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,” the vice president 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.”
Harris added that “we have a responsibility and we feel a deep commitment to making sure that folks who helped us are safe.”
Lee was more blunt. “Countries make calculations and take positions, and they have to make recalculations and adjust their positions from time to time,” the prime minister said. “Sometimes it can be done smoothly; sometimes there are hiccups. Sometimes things go awry and take time to put right.”
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