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.
Guaidó holds a rally last week in Caracas. Photo: Ruben Sevilla Brand/picture alliance via Getty Images
The Trump administration's special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, insisted today that the fall of Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro is inevitable, and issued yet another call for those supporting the regime to change sides.
The big picture: It has now been 3 months since the U.S. recognized National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president. At that time, the U.S. hoped Venezuela's military would abandon Maduro. President Trump also suggested the U.S. might be ready to back Guaidó with force.
Speaking to reporters following a speech at the Atlantic Council, Abrams denied that support among Guaidó's backers was wavering, either inside Venezuela or internationally.
Shannon O'Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations argues that Trump's strategy in Venezuela "has come up short," and he now risks "alienating influential players and easy friends alike" with his increasingly hard-line approach in Latin America.
What to watch: Martin Aguirre, editor-in-chief of Uruguay's El Pais newspaper, emails that the situation in Venezuela remains "top news" across South America, but "interest has faded a bit" as Guaidó has failed to make a decisive move.
Worth noting: The Maduro-Guaidó power struggle is playing out in Washington, in addition to Caracas.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Leaders from 37 countries and delegates from more than 150 are gathering in Beijing for the second forum on China's sprawling Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
The backdrop: Getting that many world leaders to turn up might seem like a triumph for President Xi Jinping, but he'll actually have to do some damage control.
Jonathan Hillman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) writes for Axios Expert Voices that in the 2 years since the last forum, concerns have grown over corruption, debt sustainability, environmental impacts and local benefits in addition to worries about Beijing's true motives.
Dan Kliman, of the Center for New American Security, says that while Xi will attempt to "rebrand and reboot" Belt and Road this week, "this is a strategic geopolitical exercise, so they don't want to take steps that would reduce their control."
The bottom line: Chris Johnson, a former top CIA China analyst now at CSIS, tells me the message will be: "We have heard your feedback, taken it into account, and we're making changes. But guess what, the region still has a huge need for infrastructure and we're ready to provide it."
What to watch: U.K. Treasury Secretary Philip Hammond will attend the summit, fresh off a decision to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to help build the Britain's 5G network despite vocal U.S. objections.
Go deeper: China's road to global dominance
Putin welcomes Kim to Russia. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Russia's Vladimir Putin met for over 3 hours today with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, who traveled by armored train from Pyongyang to Vladivostok in Russia.
Why it matters: The meeting comes as North Korea makes its frustrations with the Trump administration clear after the failed summit in Hanoi, and it puts Russia at the table in a process where its role has been peripheral.
The BBC's Sarah Rainsford sets the scene from Vladivostok:
Putin doesn't want to see North Korea recognized as a nuclear state, but also opposes any sanctions that risk the collapse of the regime, according to Carnegie Moscow's Alexander Gabuev:
The bottom line: Gabuev says the U.S. can't write Moscow off because "if any solution is to be achieved and blessed by the UN Security Council, the international community will need Russia’s support, and so the diplomatic framework will have to accommodate the Kremlin’s interests."
Go deeper: North Korea's message to Trump.
Sri Lanka has revised the official death toll from Sunday's attack down to 253, far lower than the 359 a police spokesman previously said died.
A protest against the trial of Catalan politicians last month in Madrid. Photo: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Spanish politics have been upended in recent years by the breakdown of 2-party dominance, a fiery national debate over Catalan independence and the rise of a new far-right movement, Vox.
Why it matters: All 3 factors will be central to Sunday’s general election. Political paralysis is perhaps the most likely outcome.
What to watch: If no sustainable solution emerges, we could see yet another election before long.
The big picture: “The pattern is becoming familiar in Europe, where fed-up voters have abandoned the traditional parties of right and left (ask France’s Republicans, or Italy’s Democrats) and opted for a plethora of new groups, some on either extreme of the spectrum, others harder to pin down,” the Economist notes.
French President Emmanuel Macron "promised tax cuts, pension rises and a continuation of his reform program" in a long-awaited speech this evening responding to the "Yellow Vest" protests against him, per the Guardian.
Did you do or learn something interesting yesterday?
As for the "negative experience" questions — about suffering physical pain, stress, sadness, etc. — Chad, Niger, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Iran ranked as "most negative."
Worth noting: Countries of the former Soviet Union were least likely to say they'd had either positive or negative experiences the day prior. "In Azerbaijan, Belarus and Latvia, fewer than 4 in 10 residents reported experiencing any of these feelings."
The Tour of the Alps passes by a vineyard in Baselga di Pinè, Italy. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
“The U.K. has vanished. The British ambassador told me — and I loved it — that every time the British military is meeting with the American military, the Americans are talking about the French.”— Outgoing French ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud, to the FT.
"I am sure you enjoyed making hay with the U.K.'s temporary Brexit travails but until there is a French President's bust in the Oval Office we will not take any lessons in having good relations with Washington."— U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, on Twitter.
Thanks for reading — have a wonderful weekend