US Vice President-elect Joseph Biden will visit Southwest Asia on a fact-finding mission this week leading a bipartisan Congressional delegation, just days before he takes office alongside Barack Obama on January 20.
For security reasons, details of the trip and the countries to be visited have not been released. But the geographical description suggests countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan or India and parts of the Middle East.
Biden would be accompanied by Senator John Kerry, the former Democratic Presidential candidate and the incoming Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden is the outgoing chairman of this Senate committee, which plays a key role in shaping the US foreign policy.
Other members of the team are Democrat Senator Jack Reed and Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham.
"The purpose of this trip is fact-finding -- in the coming months both the Executive and Legislative branches will carefully review US policy toward this region, and the trip will allow its participants to bring current and first-hand information to these reviews," Biden's Senate spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said.
"The fact-finding delegation will make it clear to foreign leaders that they are not there to speak on behalf of the US government, or convey policy positions for the incoming administration," Alexander said.
Media reports from Islamabad said the delegation would be visiting Pakistan, but there was no confirmation or denial by Biden's office. "For security reasons, details of the delegation's itinerary will be released as the trip progresses," Alexander told.