Putin and Assad hold a meeting in Damascus, Jan. 7. Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

During his surprise visit to Syria last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, to invite President Trump to Damascus, according to a video of a short conversation between the two leaders aired Sunday on Russia-1 television channel.

What's happening: The video shows the leaders speaking to each other during a visit to the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Damascus. Assad tells Putin about the apostle Paul who became a Christian at the gate of Damascus and adds jokingly: "If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too."

  • Putin laughs and tells Assad: “It will be repaired … invite him. He will come.” Assad answers that he is ready to invite Trump, to which Putin responds, smiling: “I will tell him."

Go deeper: Read Axios' two-part special report on "20 Years of Putin"

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Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 33,454,037 — Total deaths: 1,003,571 — Total recoveries: 23,204,219Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 7,165,067 — Total deaths: 205,476 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.

NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.