Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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

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

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When the Biden administration was organizing high-level summits with Russia in June and China in October, it turned to the same country: Switzerland.

Why it matters: The neutral state at the heart of Europe has long played a larger role in U.S. diplomacy than many Americans realize.

  • Not only did Switzerland play host to President Biden and Vladimir Putin, and later national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, the country also plays a central role in diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran.
  • Since the U.S. severed relations with Tehran following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, U.S. diplomatic and consular affairs in Iran have flowed through the Swiss Embassy. The Swiss often serve as an intermediary between the countries.
  • It’s not just a one-way street. The Swiss hope to negotiate a free trade agreement with Washington, and could also use U.S. support next year as they seek a seat on the UN Security Council for the first time.

Zoom in: Four women on both sides of the Atlantic are currently at the heart of the relationship: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman; Swiss State Secretary Livia Leu; U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Bern Eva Weigold Schultz; and Beatrice Schaer, head of protocol at the Swiss Foreign Ministry.

  • Sherman and Leu developed a friendship in the lead-up to the Iran deal, when Sherman was the lead U.S. negotiator in Geneva and Leu was ambassador to Iran. Leu’s first working trip outside of Europe in her current role was to Washington to meet Sherman, and Sherman visited Leu in Switzerland earlier this month.
  • Weigold Schultz, meanwhile, is "really in the driver's seat although just being the ambassador ad interim," a Swiss official close to the government tells Axios.
  • And Schaer won plaudits for organizing the Biden-Putin summit in just eight days.

Worth noting: The economic relationship is also bigger than you might expect. Switzerland is the seventh-largest foreign direct investor in the U.S. economy, ahead of much larger countries such as France and Spain. Total trade between the two countries amounts to $130 billion per year.

Go deeper

Nov 30, 2021 - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.

Nov 30, 2021 - World

Weapons-grade enrichment would "imperil" nuclear talks, diplomats warn Iran

The talks resume in Vienna. Photo: EU Vienna delegation handout via Getty

Senior diplomats from France, Germany and the U.K. briefed reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, saying that if Iran starts enriching uranium to 90% purity, the level needed to produce nuclear weapons, it would "seriously imperil" the negotiations.

Why it matters: Israel has shared intelligence with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich weapons-grade uranium, as Axios first reported on Monday.

Axios Visuals Deep Dive: Pandemic eating

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A food revolution began pre-pandemic and COVID has only accelerated that. See how America's food industry is transforming, from farm to your table.