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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

U.S. special envoy to Iran Rob Malley had an "in-depth exchange of views on the Iranian nuclear issue" with a Chinese vice minister on a call initiated by Malley, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Feb. 10. The Biden administration has not spoken publicly about the call.

The big picture: Renewing multilateral diplomatic efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program is Malley's mandate under Biden.

Background: During the Obama administration, gaining China's support was key to levying the multilateral sanctions on Iran that eventually helped bring Iranian leaders to the bargaining table, leading to the signing of the Iran nuclear deal.

  • But Trump withdrew from that deal and China resumed imports of Iranian oil last year.

What they're saying: When contacted by Axios, the State Department did not confirm the details in the Chinese announcement.

  • "Special Envoy Rob Malley is in the early stages of engaging Members of Congress, allies, partners, and others," a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Axios in a statement.

What to watch: On Feb. 21, Iran will begin blocking International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors unless the U.S. eases sanctions.

The bottom line: As long as China gives Iran an economic lifeline, it will be easier for Iran to withstand Western pressure.

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

6 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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