The US administration is believed to be making plans to play a role in the upcoming new round of peace talks in Northern Ireland, convened jointly by the Irish and British governments.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan said that he had "no doubt" there would be a role for the US administration.

Mr Flanagan today met US Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington DC.

The minister said he was awaiting developments from the administration in terms of the detail of what the engagement would be.

He said that he saw a "very positive and constructive" role for the US in the framework of the talks, adding that the agenda for the talks was currently being put together in terms of details and time.

Mr Flanagan, who also met with the Vice President again at the swearing-in ceremony of new US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley, said that he was "most anxious to ensure that there was a positive role and function" on the part of the US administration, as far as their "support, encouragement and help" was considered.

He said he made this point "quite clear" to Mr Kerry and Mr Biden.

Mr Flanagan also met former US Senator Gary Hart today, who travelled to Dublin, Belfast and London in August to assess the process for US Secretary Kerry, and said he knew that the former Senator was fully engaged in the process.