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Kamala Harris' trip to Vietnam delayed over 'health incident' in Hanoi

HANOI — A trip to Vietnam by US vice-president Kamala Harris was delayed on Tuesday (Aug 24) following an unexplained health incident in Hanoi, the US Embassy in the Southeast Asian country's capital said in a statement.

US vice-president Kamala Harris waves before departing Singapore on Aug 24, 2021, as she travels next to Vietnam.

US vice-president Kamala Harris waves before departing Singapore on Aug 24, 2021, as she travels next to Vietnam.

HANOI — A trip to Vietnam by US vice-president Kamala Harris was delayed on Tuesday (Aug 24) following an unexplained health incident in Hanoi, the US Embassy in the Southeast Asian country's capital said in a statement.

Ms Harris, who was in Singapore concluding a three-day trip, was due to fly to Hanoi late on Tuesday but was unexpectedly delayed for 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 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 Ms Harris declined to comment on the reason for the delay.

About 100 CIA officers and family members are among some 200 US officials and kin 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 Ms Harris's trip to Vietnam was delayed, Vietnamese prime minister Pham Minh Chinh held an unannounced meeting with Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo, during which Mr Chinh said Vietnam does not align itself with one country against any other.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ms 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 defense Lloyd Austin. REUTERS

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