WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden headed to Asia Sunday for talks with Japanese, Chinese and South Korean leaders on regional and global issues.
Biden's first stop is Tokyo, followed by Beijing and Seoul. His trip comes at a time when tensions between China and Japan are heightened by a feud over control of a small island chain in the East China Sea, a dispute that has drawn in the United States as as a key ally of Japan.
"In each country, the vice president will meet with key leaders to discuss a full range of bilateral, regional and global issues," the White House said in a statement released as Biden left Washington.
"The trip will reaffirm our enduring presence as a Pacific power, promote our economic and trade interests, and underscore our commitment to rebalancing U.S. foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific."
The White House said Biden will "reaffirm the enduring strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance as a cornerstone of peace and stability in the region." He will meet with Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and other top Japanese elected officials.
When he heads to Beijing Wednesday, Biden will meet with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Li Yuanchao "to advance the high-level engagement that is the hallmark of the U.S.-China relationship." Their talks, the White House said, will include "areas of concern, including regional tensions."
The vice president will then head to Seoul Thursday afternoon where he will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Alliance, "and will reaffirm our continuing commitment to a comprehensive partnership based on shared values and mutual interests," the White House said.
Biden will discuss bilateral cooperation in meeting security threats with President Park Geun-Hye and Prime Minister Chung Hongwon before heading home Saturday.