LUEBECK, Germany – Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven most industrialized nations are meeting in the German city of Luebeck on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here are five things to know about the meeting of the top diplomats from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States:
Germany holds the G-7 presidency this year, so it gets to decide the venue. The Baltic Sea port city dates back to the 12th century. It was a major trading port for 400 years and a founding member of the Hanseatic League — a powerful alliance of commercial centers stretching across northern Europe that may be called the G-7 of its day.
"Globalization has always had a place here," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said as he welcomed his counterparts on Tuesday.
Left-wing groups staged a number of demonstrations Monday and Tuesday, protesting against a planned trans-Atlantic free trade pact and Europe's efforts to restrict the flow of refugees coming to its shores. Protests were largely peaceful, but some shopkeepers weren't taking any chances, boarding up their storefronts in case of violence.
WARS AND PIRATES
Steinmeier said the talks would cover the conflicts in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Ukraine, as well as efforts to tackle extremist groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State group.
On top of that, diplomats are planning to issue a declaration on maritime security. The Baltic coast was once teeming with pirates until the Hanseatic League cracked down on the practice in the late 14th century.
TROUBLE WITH RUSSIA
The elephant in the room — or in this case outside the room — is Russia. The former G-8 decided last year to exclude Russia over its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Asked Tuesday whether it would have been better to invite Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Luebeck as well, Steinmeier noted that he held a lengthy meeting with Lavrov and counterparts from France and Ukraine the night before.
"I think we can be accused of many things, but not lack of dialogue with Russia," he said, adding that it was up to Moscow to take the necessary steps to restore the G-8.
The foreign ministers' meeting will be followed by a conference of finance ministers in the German city Dresden at the end of May. Both events are in preparation for the G-7 heads of government meeting on June 7 and 8. This year's summit takes place at the Schloss Elmau hotel in Bavaria, Germany.