U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden has arrived in Panama for an economic mission that will include touring the Panama Canal expansion project.

Biden has said the $5.2 billion project scheduled to be completed by 2015 presents a challenge to U.S. ports that need to expand to receive the new, larger container ships that will pass through the waterway. The Panama Canal project will double the shipping capacity of the canal system that has been limited by the locks' inability to accommodate ships wider than 110 feet and longer than 1,050 feet.

Panamanian Foreign Minister Fernando Nuñez Fabrega greeted Biden at the airport Monday night. Biden will have a day of events Tuesday with President Ricardo Martinelli, who says the agenda will also include bilateral trade and security issues.

The U.S. handed over the administration of the canal to Panama in 1999.

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