(AFP) – Aug 16, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for White House hopeful Barack Obama, said on Saturday he would visit Georgia this weekend.
Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said he had been asked to go to Georgia by President Mikheil Saakashvili for talks over the conflict with Russia.
"I am going to Georgia this weekend to get the facts first-hand and to show my support for Georgia's people and its democratically-elected government," said Biden in a statement.
"I look forward to reporting to my colleagues in the Senate and on the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the administration, about what I learn."
Biden said that he would also meet Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze and US ambassador to Georgia John Tefft.
His trip comes at a time of intense speculation about Obama's pick for vice presidential nominee, with just a week to go before the party's nominating convention in Denver, Colorado.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has just returned from Georgia, and Obama's Republican rival John McCain has been in regular contact with Saakashvili throughout the crisis with Russia.
Senators Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, who are strong supporters of McCain's White House bid, are also due to visit Georgia, after both candidates vigorously condemned Russia's actions and warned of lasting consequences for Moscow-Washington relations.
Biden, a veteran Senator for Delaware, is seen by analysts as a possible vice presidential pick due to his expertise in foreign affairs, an area in which Obama is seen to lack experience.
Speculation has also surrounded another experienced diplomat, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations.
Obama may however to chose to go in a different direction, with other possible choices including Virginia governor Tim Kaine, or Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.
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