* Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said on Thursday he wanted to deepen his personal relationship with the United States President Joe Biden during his trip to the White House next month.
* Russia regrets that Afghanistan peace negotiations in Doha are yet to yield progress and hopes international talks with Afghan government representatives and the Taliban in Moscow on Thursday will support the process, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
* India and Pakistan reported a big jump in infections on Thursday, driven by a resurgence in cases in their richest states.
* The European Commission’s threat to block exports of COVID-19 vaccines to countries with higher vaccination rates that are not reciprocating, including Britain, won backing from Germany, France and Italy, EU officials and diplomats said.
* Flags flew at half mast and thousands of towns held a minute’s silence on Thursday as Italy mourned the victims of a coronavirus epidemic that has killed more than 100,000 in 13 months.
* Moderna expects to deliver its first COVID-19 vaccines to Britain in April and is on track to meet its supply obligations, a spokesman for the company said after ministers warned the vaccine rollout would be slower than hoped.
* Germany reports biggest rise in cases in two months
* Britain said on Thursday that global supply bumps meant its vaccine roll-out would be slower than hoped in coming weeks, but it expected deliveries to increase again in May, June and July.
* Irish goods imports from Britain fell by 65% in January from the same month last year as traders grappled with new customs requirements, COVID-19 restrictions and pre-Brexit stockpiling, Ireland’s statistics service said on Thursday.
* Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, registered 6,467 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, health agency statistics showed. The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 8 new deaths, taking the total to 13,236. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.
* Alphabet Inc’s Google will invest US$7 billion in offices and data centers across the US this year, down from the US$10 billion last year, and create 10,000 new full-time jobs as it takes on a pandemic-driven surge in internet traffic.