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VP Kamala Harris' Vietnam trip delayed by possible case of Havana Syndrome

VP Kamala Harris' Vietnam trip delayed by possible case of Havana Syndrome
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits sailors aboard the USS Tulsa in Singapore on Monday. Photo courtesy VP Kamala Harris/Twitter

Aug. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris traveled from Singapore to Vietnam on Tuesday after a delay of a few hours due to a mysterious health threat that resembled Havana Syndrome, officials said.

Harris' arrival in Hanoi was delayed by about three hours due to the threat.

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Communications officer Symone Sanders said Harris was not affected by the issue.

"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. After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the vice president's trip," the State Department said in a statement.

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Havana Syndrome was first discovered in Cuba about five years ago and is described as "sonic attacks" that cause debilitating symptoms with ultrasound energy.

Wednesday, Harris is scheduled to meet with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Earlier Tuesday in Singapore, Harris reaffirmed the United States' commitment to allies in Southeast Asia in the face of Chinese aggression in the region.

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Harris laid out a U.S. vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific in a speech at Singapore's Gardens by the Bay waterfront park. She said the region is critical to U.S. security and prosperity.

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The United States, she said, will continue to work with Southeast Asian partners and multilateral organizations to uphold that vision and deepen relations.

"In this region, we have long put forward a vision of peace and stability: freedom on the seas, unimpeded commerce, advancing human rights, a commitment to the international rules-based order and a recognition that our common interests are not zero-sum," she said. "Now, as we face threats to that order, I am here to reaffirm our commitment to that vision, to strengthen it and to make sure it addresses the challenges of today and of tomorrow."

The United States is committed to security in the region, including freedom of navigation that sees billions of dollars in goods each day flow through the South China Sea, where China has laid sweeping claims, despite being rejected as unlawful by a 2016 tribunal.

Beijing's claims have sparked disputes with neighboring countries, in particular the Philippines and Vietnam, and the United States has accused China of building artificial islands in the sea since 2013 to use as military outposts.

Harris said Beijing continues "to coerce, to intimidate and make claims to the vast majority of the East China Sea" and the actions "undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations."

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Harris was also quick to note that the U.S. vision doesn't target any one nation or force nations to choose. Singapore has remained neutral amid the U.S.-China conflict.

Harris arrived in Singapore on Sunday. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III visited the region in July.

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