Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. 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 the Axios Closer newsletter 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 the Axios Sports newsletter. 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 the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

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 the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

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!

The U.S. and Iranian delegations during 2015 talks in Vienna, including Zarif (Right side, at center) and Malley (Left side, at front). Photo: Siamek Ebrahimi/Anadolu Agency/Getty

The U.S. and Iran are expected to hold indirect “proximity talks” in Vienna next Tuesday to try and break the deadlock over a potential return to the 2015 nuclear deal, Western diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: At the moment, next week’s talks are not expected to include U.S. and Iranian diplomats sitting in the same room, but it's a small step forward when it comes to U.S.-Iran engagement.

Driving the news: Representatives from the signatories who remain in the nuclear deal — France, Germany, the U.K., EU, Russia and China — held a virtual meeting on Friday with Iran to discuss ways to return to the nuclear deal, which would require the U.S. to lift sanctions and Iran to unwind its recent nuclear breaches.

  • The parties decided to hold a in-person meeting next week in Vienna at the “experts level."
  • The U.S. envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, is not currently expected to take part, Western diplomats tell me.

Behind the scenes: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi refused to issue a joint statement at the end of Friday's meeting because there was no agreement on U.S. participation in Vienna next week, Western diplomats briefed on the talks tell me.

  • According to one diplomat, Araghchi told his counterparts: “'If the Americans are in Vienna at the same time and you want to talk to them, it's O.K. with us but we will not meet them.'"
  • Representatives from the E3 (France, Germany and the U.K.) urged Araghchi to agree to direct engagement with the U.S., saying the Biden administration's proposals had been "more than reasonable."
  • The French representative was particularly forceful, telling Araghchi that Iran’s position was rejectionist and unhelpful, the Western diplomats say.

What they're saying: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that the aim of next week’s talks will be to “rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures. No Iran-U.S meeting. Unnecessary."

  • State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed the U.S. had agreed to take part in the talks and "remains open" to direct talks with the Iranians, though next weeks talks are expected to be indirect.
  • “These remain early days, and we don’t anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead. But we believe this is a healthy step forward," Price told Axios.

Between the lines: According to one Western diplomat, the E3 representatives took a tougher line with Iran on Friday than the Biden administration has thus far. Biden's team has been trying unsuccessfully to kickstart a process that would lead both sides back to the deal.

  • Another Western diplomat disagreed with that characterization, saying the Biden administration was actually taking a tougher line than the E3. Some in Europe have called on the U.S. to move more quickly to re-enter the deal.

What’s next: During Tuesday’s talks in Vienna, the American team is expected to sit in one room and the Iranians in another room, with the Europeans shuttling between them.

  • According to an EU statement, next week's talks will proceed on two separate tracks: identifying steps the U.S. must take on sanctions on one hand, and steps Iran must take on its nuclear program on the other.
  • Price said the meetings would be structured into working groups, assembled by the EU to discuss both of those issues.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect additional reporting on the U.S. position on the talks as compared to the E3.

Go deeper

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."

COVID created an epic U.S. trade gap

Chart: Axios Visuals. Data: Census Bureau/Bureau of Economic Analysis

The details of the blockbuster fourth quarter GDP report released Thursday morning tell a vivid story of how the underpinnings of the world economy have been reshaped by the pandemic.

One example: In the arithmetic around U.S. economic output, trade acted as a more severe drag last year than it has in a generation.