Biden arrives in Helsinki, before heading to Russia, Moldova

7th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Helsinki Monday as part of a three-nation European tour for talks with the Finnish president and prime minister on Afghanistan and US-EU ties, a US Embassy spokesman said.

"The visit is really a gesture of friendship and a recognition of the close cooperation our two countries enjoy," David McGuire told AFP as he waited for the us vice president at the airport.

On Tuesday morning, Biden is scheduled to meet with President Tarja Halonen and in the afternoon to confer with Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi.

"They'll be talking about a variety of issues such as Afghanistan and creating a stable and peaceful environment there, and US-EU relations," said McGuire.

He said Biden was also interested in discussing green energy solutions, a sector in which Finland is viewed as a pioneer.

The last US vice president to visit Finland was Dan Quayle in 1992, while Bill Clinton was the last sitting president to visit in 1997.

Biden was next to travel to Russia and Moldova.

"In Moscow, he will seek to build on the 'reset' in US-Russian relations, with a focus on ways to further the prosperity of our two countries," the White House said in a statement on Sunday, without giving precise dates.

Russian news agencies quoting diplomatic sources had previously said that Biden would be in Moscow to prepare for a possible visit by President Barack Obama, but the White House has declined to comment on this.

"In Chisinau, he will signal our support for ongoing democratic and economic reforms and for Moldova's aspirations for European integration," the White House said.

The United States last year hailed Moldova's parliamentary elections as another step forward in the former Soviet Republic's democratic development.

© 2011 AFP

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