Kamala Harris reassures leaders of US involvement on world stage as election looms

Isolationist approach 'is dangerous, destabilising and, indeed, short sighted', US Vice President tells Munich Security Conference

US Vice President Kamala Harris addresses the 60th Munich Security Conference on Friday. AFP
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US Vice President Kamala Harris sought to reassure global leaders that President Joe Biden's administration is committed to playing a leading role on the world stage while speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.

“We are committed to pursue global engagement, to uphold international rules and norms to defend democratic allies at home and abroad and to work with our allies and partners in pursuit of shared goals,” Ms Harris said.

Her address, which resembled a campaign speech, highlighted the stark contrast between Mr Biden’s approach to foreign policy and that of former president Donald Trump, who is the front-runner for the Republican nomination – though she never mentioned his name.

Some in the US “suggest it is in the best interest of the American people to isolate ourselves from the world, to flout common understandings among nations, to embrace dictators and adopt the repressive tactics and abandon commitments to our allies in favour of unilateral action”, Ms Harris said.

But such attitudes are “dangerous, destabilising and, indeed, short sighted”, she argued.

Ms Harris's address, which the White House described as a “major foreign policy speech”, came after Mr Trump suggested that Washington might not protect Nato allies who are not spending enough on defence from any Russian invasion.

His comments elicited shock and concern from European leaders.

Though the Vice President highlighted Washington's efforts to help Ukraine while galvanising and strengthening Nato, a divided US House of Representatives is holding up a $95 billion security package that includes more than $60 billion in funding for Kyiv.

Ukraine says it is in desperate need of funds to push Russian forces out of the country.

She only briefly touched on the Israel-Gaza war in her speech but said the US was “working to end the conflict” and pointed to efforts to secure peace in the wider region.

In a question-and-answer session after the address, she elaborated on the US approach to the Israel-Gaza war and reaffirmed Washington's belief in the need for a two-state solution.

“There cannot be, in my opinion, peace and security for that region, for the people of Israel, or the Palestinians and the people of Gaza without a two-state solution,” Ms Harris said.

Updated: February 16, 2024, 4:17 PM