Coalition troops in Afghanistan mounted the biggest offensive against the Taliban since the war there began eight years ago. Initial reports from Helmand province indicated that progress has been made although the opposition was strong.

European Union finance ministers set a deadline of 16 March for Greece to prepare a viable deficit-reduction plan before considering what form assistance to Athens might take.

The EU suspended preferential trade terms for Sri Lanka as a signal of its concern over the decline in the government's observation of human rights and freedom of the press.

Diplomatic relations between Britain and Israel cooled after it became known that faked British passports had been carried by a team thought to have been responsible for the assassination in Dubai of a leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement.