G7 leaders began their annual summit Thursday with discussions on how best to reboot global economic growth, while the European Union appealed for support in tackling migration and the continent's refugee crisis.

Japanese Prime Minister and summit host Shinzo Abe has put the economy at the forefront of the two-day talks, in the hope of winning support for coordinated fiscal stimulus. Abe is facing economic headwinds at home with diappointing results from his much-hyped "Abenomics" programme.

But Germany in particular is opposed to the stimulus-driven approach, which Chancellor Angela rejected during a visit by the Japanese premier to Berlin earlier this month.

The leaders will "reaffirm an important role of fiscal, monetary and structural policies," Kyodo News agency reported Thursday, citing an unnamed Japanese government source.

Their compromise agreement is expected to state that each country should choose the mix most suited to its circumstances, according to diplomatic sources.

Meanwhile, EU President Donald Tusk called Thursday for the G7 to send out a signal for more global assistance in the current refugee and migration crisis.

The bloc has been grappling with a surge in illegal migration that saw 1 million people reach the continent last year, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa.

"We are aware that it is because of geography that the most responsibility is - and will continue to be - placed on Europe, however we would also like the global community to show solidarity and recognize the fact that this is a global crisis," Tusk told journalists ahead of the summit.

Tusk said he would "appeal to G7 leaders" to boost public assistance to refugees and host communities and to espouse resettlement schemes and other forms of legal migration around the world.

Later Thursday, the leaders are also expected to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and the role of Russia, which was excluded from the G8 in 2014 after annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Moscow is accused of supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, and has been hit with Western sanctions, with EU measures up for renewal at the end of July.

"Our stance vis-a-vis Russia, including economic sanctions, will remain unchanged as long as the Minsk agreements are not fully implemented," Tusk said, referring to the peace deal signed in the Belarusian capital.

The EU is "ready to continue with our sanctions," he added, noting that he expected a decision "in the next two, three weeks."

Other regional flashpoints to be addressed during the summit include Chinese claims over the South China Sea, a key shipping lane that is also claimed in various parts by five neighbouring countries.

"Any maritime or territorial claim should be based on the international law and any possible dispute should be resolved by peaceful means," Tusk said. "Unilateral actions and the use of force or coercion will not be accepted."

Before the start of the summit, Abe took the G7 leaders to the Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred site in Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion.

The G7 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, while the EU is also takes part. Italy will host the 2017 summit on the Italian island of Sicily, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced on his website.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.