Joe Biden Having ‘Working Lunch’ in Finland Monday

By Staff | March 7, 2011 | 10:34 AM EST

Helsinki (AP) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived Monday in Finland for talks with local leaders at the start of a three-country tour that includes Russia and Moldova.

Biden will aim to build on warmer relations between Washington and Moscow and wants to signal support for "ongoing democratic and economic changes" in Moldova -- one of Europe's poorest countries, White House officials said.

On Tuesday, Biden will meet Finnish President Tarja Halonen and have a working lunch with Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi before continuing to Moscow.

The previous top White House visit to Finland was in 1997, when President Bill Clinton was in Helsinki.

Biden's aides said that Biden's first trip to the region would include talks in the Finnish capital "on a broad range of issues," including the European Union and U.S.-EU relations.

The State Department said the high-tech sector in Finland -- home of Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker -- also has been attractive to U.S. investors. Biden would also talk about innovative and green technologies with his Finnish hosts, aides said.