Biden to Russia, Finland, Moldova
US Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Russia, Finland and Moldova next month to forge ahead with Washington's "reset" of relations with the Kremlin and consult its partners on regional issues.
The White House said Biden, who will be accompanied by his wife Jill, would travel in the week of March 7.
Russian news agencies quoting diplomatic sources had previously said that Biden would travel to Moscow in the spring to prepare the way for an eventual visit by President Barack Obama.
The White House has declined to say if Obama is expecting to return to Russia this year, in a visit that would symbolically cap the drive to pass a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which came into force this month.
Obama last visited Moscow in July 2009, when he and President Dmitry Medvedev signed a landmark declaration pledging to reach the new deal cutting nuclear arms, which has been ratified by legislatures in both countries.
Medvedev visited the United States in June last year and held talks with Obama in Washington after visiting California's Silicon Valley, and the two leaders frequently meet in one-on-one sessions at international summits.
The White House said in a statement that Biden's trip to Moscow would "seek to build on the reset of US-Russian relations, with a focus on ways to further the prosperity of our two countries."
In Finland, Biden will discuss "shared regional and global priorities" and in Moldova, plans to signal support for democratic reforms and the Chisinau government's support for European integration.
The United States last year hailed Moldova's parliamentary election as another step forward in the former Soviet Republic's democratic development.
© 2011 AFP