By Reuters, published by Channel NewsAsia
Hanoi – A flight from Singapore to Vietnam by US Vice President Kamala Harris was delayed on today (Aug. 24) following an unexplained health incident in Hanoi, the US Embassy in Vietnam said in a statement.
Harris, who was in Singapore concluding a three-day trip, was due to fly to Hanoi this afternoon but was unexpectedly delayed for about three hours due to an “anomalous health incident”.
“Anomalous health incident” is a term the US government often uses to describe Havana Syndrome, a condition with symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, migraines and memory lapses, so named because it first was reported by US officials based in the US embassy in Cuba in 2016.
“The Vice President’s office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi, Vietnam,” the US Embassy in Vietnam statement said.
“After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the Vice President’s trip,” the statement said, without elaborating.
A spokesperson for Harris declined to comment on the reason for the delay.
About 100 CIA officers and family members are among about 200 US officials and family members sickened by Havana syndrome, CIA Director William Burns has said.
A US National Academy of Sciences panel in December found that a plausible theory is that “directed energy” beams caused the syndrome, he said.
There is a “very strong possibility” that the syndrome is intentionally caused, and that Russia could be responsible, he said, adding that he is withholding definitive conclusions pending further investigation.
Moscow denies involvement.
Vietnam says it picks no sides
As Harris’s trip to Vietnam was delayed, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh held an unannounced meeting with Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo, during which Chinh said Vietnam does not align itself with one country against any other.
Earlier today, Harris had accused Beijing of coercion and intimidation to back claims in the South China Sea, her most pointed comments on China during a visit to Southeast Asia, a region she said was critical to US security.
“The Prime Minister affirmed that Vietnam adheres to an independent, self-reliant, multilateral, and diverse foreign policy and is a responsible member of the international community,” the Vietnamese government said in a statement.
“Vietnam does not align itself with one country against another,” it said.
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be settled according to international law and “high-level common sense”, it said. China would provide Covid-19 vaccine support for Vietnam, it added.
The US administration has called rivalry with China “the biggest geopolitical test” of the century, and Southeast Asia has seen a series of high-profile visits by top administration officials, including Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
Top: US Vice President Kamala Harris at Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base on Aug 24, 2021 before her departure to Vietnam. Photo: Hanidah Amin, CNA
Home Page: US Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she boards Air Force Two at Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base, on her way to depart for Vietnam on the second leg of her Southeast Asia trip on Aug 24, 2021. Photo: Hanidah Amin, CNA