A meeting of G7 foreign ministers, set to focus on conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, is underway in Lübeck. Thousands of protesters have descended on the city to voice their opposition to capitalism and war.
Foreign ministers from the group of major industrialized nations arrived in the northern German port city of Lübeck on Tuesday for two days of talks.
Ahead of the meeting, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told journalists the agenda would be dominated by how to tackle various conflicts, including violence in eastern Ukraine and Yemen.
"We will talk about how we can achieve peace, eliminate conflicts and crises - or at least to deescalate them. This is what we will be discussing this evening," Steinmeier said.
The foreign minister also criticized Russia's decision to lift a ban on the delivery of an air defense missile system to Iran, saying that negotiators are "in the middle of a process" of reaching a final deal by June 30. His plea not to offer rewards to Iran "too early" echo similar comments made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the day.
The top diplomats from France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, the US, Canada and host nation, Germany, are attending the G7 talks, along with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive on Wednesday.
Other issues on the table at the Lübeck talks include conflicts in the Middle East, the group's relationship with Russia, and Iran's nuclear dispute. The ministers are also expected to discuss the challenges posed by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, climate change, and terror group "Islamic State."
Germany currently chairs the G7 group of industrialized nations. The Lübeck meeting is a precursor to the G7 summit for heads of state and government set to take place at the Schloss Elmau resort near Munich in June. Russia had been a part of what was formerly known as the G8, before it was excluded over Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
Heavy police presence
Security was tight around the city on Germany's northern Baltic coast on Tuesday evening as the ministers began their talks.
Lübeck authorities sealed off much of the city, while many of the town's businesses decided to remain closed for the day.
Some 3,500 police officers were deployed to ensure peaceful protests and avoid a repeat of the riots which marred an otherwise peaceful "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt last month.
Spokesman for the "Stop G7" Alliance Christopher Little said several thousand participants from all over Northern Germany and Scandinavia were expected to travel to Lübeck to join a protest through the old town.
Lübeck was founded in the 12th century. Its high gothic architecture and historic buildings, such as its historic City Hall, are protected earned the status UNESCO world heritage site in 1987.
nm/jr (dpa, AFP)