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TV in Seoul train station announcing historic meeting. Photo: Jung Yeoon-je / AFP / Getty Images

Beijing is pleased with the news that President Trump accepted an offer to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Huang called it “a step in the right direction,” Xinhua reports.

What I'm hearing: Chinese officials were not aware that Kim had suggested to the South Koreans he was willing to sit down with Trump, but they will be happy at the prospect that lowered tensions may be on the horizon.

The big question: Trump has softened his approach to China because he has wanted their assistance in the “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea. If a direct channel with Pyongyang is established, will Beijing still have all those cards to play against the U.S.?

Reality check: The location will matter. The Joint Security Area in the Korean Demilitarized Zone near Panmunjom seems like an obvious venue. Beijing may be happy to host, but Kim is unlikely to want to allow the Chinese to take any credit.

Trump may be tempted to go to Pyongyang, but that would be a huge propaganda win for North Korea. And, as North Korea and nuclear proliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis writes on Twitter:

"This is literally how the North Korean film 'The Country I Saw' ends. An American President visits Pyongyang, compelled by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs to treat a Kim as an equal."

Go deeper: Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass writes that this "calls for cautious diplomacy" in Axios' Expert Voices.

Editor's note: This was corrected to show Jeffrey Lewis is the expert, not James Lewis.

Go deeper

Updated 34 mins ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbot (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.