BUCHAREST (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Bucharest on Tuesday, beginning a three-day trip to reassure Washington's European allies they have American backing in the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.
A former communist state on the Black Sea, Romania joined NATO a decade ago and the European Union in 2007. It has been among the most vehement advocates of Western sanctions against Moscow after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
"The Vice President will underscore the United States' ironclad commitment to the collective defense of NATO under Article 5, and express appreciation for Romania's contributions to regional and global security," Biden's White House office said.
Romania, which neighbours Ukraine, has said NATO must reposition its resources in the wake of Moscow's manoeuvres. It is especially wary that Moldova - a tiny state bordering Romania with a Russian-speaking minority - could be next in Moscow's sights.
Biden is due to meet American and Romanian troops conducting a joint "capacity-building" exercise. He will hold talks with President Traian Băsescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Wednesday and address the need to deepen economic ties, recommit to strengthening democratic institutions and undertake sustained efforts to bolster Europe's energy security.
Since the standoff between Russia and the West began over Ukraine, Romania has taken part in navy drills in the Black Sea and hosted military exercises with U.S. troops.
Biden will go on to Cyprus from Romania.
Reporting by Luiza Ilie; writing by Radu Marinas; Editing by Larry King