US Vice President Joe Biden has pledged the support of the United States to the new round of political talks on Northern Ireland.

The vice president spoke with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson as well as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

In separate calls to all three men he stressed that the US stood "ready to assist the parties in whatever way possible".

When speaking with the Taoiseach, Mr Biden praised both the Irish and the British governments for helping to organise the talks.

The four men discussed the diplomatic role that could be played by the retired US Senator Gary Hart in facilitating further discussions between the parties.

Senator Hart is now in Belfast as the Personal Representative of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

In his conversations with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, Joe Biden "underscored the importance of open dialogue and constructive compromise" when it came to resolving differences, securing more effective governance and a brighter future for Northern Ireland.

Mr Biden told Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness that Senator Hart was ready to play a direct role in facilitating the discussions.