U.S.-India diplomacy. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale are meeting Monday, and the two have plenty to discuss. First, there’s the India-Pakistan standoff, which threatened to bring the two countries to war over the past month. Then, there’s India’s purchase of Iranian and Venezuelan oil, which the United States wants to stop. (India has historically trailed only the U.S. among cash-paying customers for Venezuelan crude, according to Reuters’ reporting.) Finally, the U.S. intends to scrap India’s preferential trade status, which allows $5.6 billion worth of Indian exports to enter the U.S. duty-free.
North Korean missiles. Satellite imagery shows ongoing work at North Korea’s Sanumdong missile research facility and Sohae rocket-testing facility. The South Korean military said Monday it was following these developments closely. The North hasn’t tested an intercontinental ballistic missile since November 2017. We said before the breakdown of the second round of U.S.-North Korea talks that we expected the occasional North Korean saber-rattling in the form of shorter-range missile tests.
Venezuelan stalemate. After an unprecedented, multiday blackout across Venezuela, the lights are starting to come back on. But the power outage has become the most recent escalation in the tit-for-tat rhetorical battle between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido. Maduro used the outages to close workplaces and schools, and on Sunday, he blamed “multiple cyberattacks” for the mass outages. Experts, however, have pointed to transmission system failures and the government’s inability to repair them. The opposition is looking into the possibility of declaring a national emergency, while Maduro used the situation to reinforce military presence on the streets. The U.S. has acknowledged that Maduro is hanging on to power because of foreign support and repeated calls for China and Russia to abandon Venezuela. Guaido, for his part, plans to tour the country to rally supporters.
- Turkey’s gross domestic product decreased by 3 percent in the last quarter of 2018, compared with the same quarter in 2017, the worst performance in that metric since 2009.
- On Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched an assault on the Islamic State’s last territory in eastern Syria, according to an official from the U.S.-backed group.
- Car sales in China, the largest automobile market in the world, fell by 13.8 percent month-over-month in February, the eighth straight month of decline. Sales fell 16 percent in January and 13 percent in December.
- Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC-led supply cuts were unlikely to end before June. Another Saudi official also said Monday that the country intends to reduce crude exports next month to below 7 million barrels per day, down from just over 10 million bpd in February.