Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
D.C. readers: Join me tomorrow evening at 5 pm for a screening of "The Price of Free," a gripping documentary about Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi's efforts to end child slavery.
Situational awareness: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif resigned today with an Instagram post in which he apologized for his "shortcomings." Zarif led Iran's negotiations on the 2015 nuclear deal. It’s not clear if his resignation has been accepted.
In North Korea, Vietnam, China and Cuba, we’re witnessing tests this week of what it means to survive and prosper as a communist state in 2019.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in the midst of a multi-day train journey to Vietnam, where he will hold his second summit with President Trump. Since taking power in 2011, Kim’s top priorities (other than consolidating power) have been to bolster North Korea’s nuclear program and its beleaguered economy.
Vietnam, which liberalized its economy beginning in the 1980s, in many ways represents the future the Trump administration is encouraging Kim to pursue.
China's economic might is viewed in Washington less as a miracle than as a threat. But Trump today gave the clearest indication yet that he plans to wind down a trade war that has posed pointed questions to Beijing.
Finally in Cuba, voters have ratified a new constitution for the first time since 1976.
Trump and Kim impersonators wander Hanoi ahead of the summit. Photo: Linh Pham/Getty Images
Expectations are fairly low heading into this week's Hanoi summit, including among Trump's team. DiMaggio says she's optimistic that "the administration has adjusted to an approach that's in the realm of possibility."
Bruce Klingner, a former CIA Korea specialist now at The Heritage Foundation, says any breakthrough in Hanoi would have required substantial groundwork that doesn't seem to have been laid.
DiMaggio says the rhetoric we have heard from Trump in advance of the summit — that there's "no rush" toward denuclearization and that Kim is a great leader — sends exactly the wrong message.
What to watch: DiMaggio and Klingner both raised U.S. troop reductions in Asia as something that shouldn't be on the table, but might be.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Vice President Pence was in Colombia today, where he met with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó and Colombian President Iván Duque.
Why it matters: The Trump administration is attempting to send a clear message in the wake of the deadly clashes over the weekend at the border between Venezuela and Colombia that they are all-in and won't rest until Nicolás Maduro is out of power.
Pence has been central to the Trump administration's hawkish approach in Venezuela, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports:
As to why Trump himself is so invested in the Venezuelan power struggle, Swan writes:
What's next: We seem to be headed for exactly the sort of conflict many in the region hoped could be avoided — Trump locking horns with Maduro.
Thailand's prime minister, army commander in chief and others salute in front of a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images
Thailand’s first elections since the country was taken over by a military junta in May 2014 are unlikely to bring much peace or stability to the kingdom, Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations writes for Axios Expert Voices:
The big picture: Undemocratic actors are likely to become only more powerful after next month's vote. While the junta is not popular — as recent polling shows— the army will likely take tough actions if anti-junta parties win.
But the military is keeping all its options open in one of the few wealthy or middle-income countries on Earth where coups are still common. Hardline army commander Apirat Kongsompong recently refused to rule out a future coup and offered veiled threats against anyone who disrespects the armed forces.
1. Senegal's prime minister claimed today that preliminary results show incumbent President Macky Sall winning Sunday's election. Opposition parties, meanwhile, claim Sall came up short of the majority needed to win outright. The electoral commission is asking for patience. Details, from AP:
3. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has declared a yearlong state of emergency 10 weeks into protests that have put his future in doubt.
A woman lights a candle in memory of slain protesters in February 2014. Photo: Monique Jaques/Corbis via Getty Images
We’re now 5 years on from the mass protests in Kiev’s Maidan square, where Ukrainians with widely diverging visions of their country’s future braved bullets to oust then-President Viktor Yanukovych, Moscow’s man in Kiev, writes GZERO Media's Willis Sparks in the Signal newsletter:
Flashback: During weeks of demonstrations, more than 100 were killed and 2,500 injured in clashes with police. Yanukovych then fled to Moscow under cover of darkness, and Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Crimea. A continuing Kremlin-backed insurrection in two of Ukraine’s eastern provinces has killed more than 10,000 people.
Five years later, what is the lasting impact of Maidan, known widely in Ukraine as the “Revolution of Dignity?”
Where it stands: With an election approaching next month, political infighting, corruption and public cynicism run deep. The low-level conflict with Russia continues. Candidates will face the question of how best to explain the lessons of Maidan and their importance for Ukraine’s future.
Bangladeshi Muslims arrive on a crowded train to take part in the Biswa Ijtema in Tongi. Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty
“Ms. Peskova is certainly the daughter of an important personality in the Russian Federation, but as a student, she does not have fewer rights than other young people to do an internship as part of her studies."— Aymeric Chauprade, a French member of the European Parliament, explaining why it's no big deal that the daughter of Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, is working in his office in Brussels.
Thanks for reading — see you Thursday evening!