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Japan PM Kishida, Bill Gates agree to cooperate over COVID, nutrition summit

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters on Dec. 2, 2021, at his office in Tokyo. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates is seen on Nov. 9, 2018, in Tokyo. (Mainichi/Junichi Sasaki)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates agreed Friday to closely work together to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic and hold a successful summit in Tokyo next week on the global challenge of malnutrition .

During the 15-minute-long teleconference, Kishida expressed hope to strengthen ties with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, co-chaired by Gates, to respond to the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus among other international health issues.

Gates thanked Japan for its contributions to international frameworks such as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility and said he will join the two-day Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021.

The summit on malnutrition issues, including both a lack and excess of nutrition, will be held with overseas members participating virtually amid the spread of the virus.

Japan has so far confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant, and has banned new entries of foreigners to prevent its further introduction from overseas.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the global nutrition situation has deteriorated with the spread of the virus, adding Japan hopes to encourage stakeholders to make financial and policy commitments on the occasion.

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