Iran, Greece top Biden's trip agenda

Turkey’s help in halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Greek economic crisis will be among the issues discussed in coming days when Vice President Joseph Biden huddles with leaders of those Aegean nations.

Biden is set to spend several days in Turkey and Greece. The White House said Monday the aim of the trip is to ensure Washington’s relationships with those nations remain strong.

The Aegean visit comes as Western leaders continue to search for a way to keep the Greek economy from failing, and as Turkey takes an even more important role in ending Iran nuclear program and ensuring stability in Iraq.

Tony Blinken, national security adviser to Biden, told reporters on a Monday conference call that the Turkey-Greece trip is “part of a continuum” with both nations.

Biden will meet with Turkish leaders in Ankara on Friday.

Turkey’s efforts to counter Kurdish separatist rebels known as the PKK topped Blinken’s description of Biden’s agenda for those talks. The PKK is on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The U.S. stands “strongly” with Turkey in its fight against the PKK, Blinken said, noting Washington is doing several things to assist this effort, including giving Ankara three Super Cobra attack helicopters and moving four Predator drone aircraft onto Turkish soil.

He called that group a “common enemy” of America, Turkey and Iraq.

Biden and his Turkish counterparts also will discuss ways to expand economic ties, the two nations’ support for political and economic reforms driven by the Arab Spring movement and the unrest in Syria, Blinken said.

The White House official said issues related to the decade-old Afghanistan war “will almost certainly be on the agenda.”

Biden also will attend a summit for entrepreneurs in Istanbul during his stay in Turkey.

The vice president will then head across the Aegean Sea to Athens, where Blinken said he will voice Washington’s support for the need for the implementation of more steps to revive the ailing Greek economy.

Biden is slated to meet for the first time with new Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, as well as other top officials in Greece’s coalition government.