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G8 Foreign Ministers Meet in Germany Ahead of Next Week's Summit

Foreign ministers of the Group-of-Eight (G8) nations are in Germany to prepare for next week's summit in the northeastern resort of Heiligendamm.

As the Potsdam meeting got underway, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed his country's opposition to a U.N. mediator's plan for supervised independence for Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province. Lavrov insisted on direct negotiations between Serbian officials and leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.

Other topics on the agenda include climate change, violence in Sudan's Darfur region, and the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea.

Foreign ministers from Pakistan and Afghanistan are also attending Wednesday's meeting, which is likely to include discussions of G8 members' sharing the military burden of the war against the Taleban.

Later Wednesday, U.N. and European Union representatives will meet in Berlin with the U.S. and Russian ministers for a session of the Mideast Quartet to discuss recent escalation of violence in Lebanon and Gaza.

Also Wednesday, German police closed off Heiligendamm behind a 10-kilometer-long metal fence ahead of next week's summit.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.