Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Biden will be the only former US president to take part in the nuclear talks
Former US Vice President Joe Biden will help broker negotiations between the US and Iran amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Mr Biden is already a popular figure in many European capitals for his intellectual firepower and foreign policy expertise.
Mr Biden, 72, will be the first US vice president to take part in the process of bringing about a nuclear deal.
A former US official told the AFP news agency Mr Biden will bring a “serious and substantive approach” that “in some ways will be more eager to reach an agreement”.
‘In your face’
Mr Biden is already viewed with deep respect in some European capitals for his work as a senator and as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In these posts, Mr Biden’s focus was often on foreign policy and negotiations – a skill he will be particularly well suited to as a current foreign minister-in-waiting, or a future foreign minister.
If negotiations prove difficult, Mr Biden might be able to use his diplomacy skills to avert a conflict in the Middle East, argued Nicholas Burns, an America studies professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
He may be able to offer Iran “a carrot and a stick” – at least “in your face”, he said.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption US and Iran still maintain some form of military and intelligence cooperation
Mr Biden has already had talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who supported the former’s run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
For his part, Mr Zarif told AFP Mr Biden would be a valuable contributor to the negotiations.
A memorandum on the process was signed by Mr Biden, Ambassador Haley and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini last month.
“Working together, we will help the Iranians realise the benefits of a negotiated settlement,” it stated.
Iran said on Tuesday that the US and Iran had reaffirmed the existing state of tensions and a common determination to secure “peaceful relations with the world”, according to the Tehran Times.
What will they discuss?
Both sides are awaiting a decision from President Donald Trump about how he will review the current nuclear deal, which was signed in 2015 by Iran and the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
While Mr Trump is a harsh critic of the deal, he may stand his ground in deciding whether to remain in the pact or to reimpose sanctions, along with other countries that are still signatories.
It would not be the first time that the future of Iran’s nuclear programme has been under discussion. The last point is critical because any nuclear agreement needs an agreed end date.
Mr Trump, a Republican, had said that if Iran was caught with undeclared nuclear activity, he would tear up the existing deal.
Mr Zarif has said that Tehran may not consider talks until an end date is agreed.