German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it "shouldn't take forever" for Britain to deliver formal notification that it wants to leave the European Union.
Addressing journalists at a news conference in Potsdam, outside Berlin, Ms Merkel said: "To be honest, it shouldn't take forever, that's right - but I would not fight over a short period of time."
The German leader said she is seeking an"objective, good" climate in talks on Britain's exit from the EU and that there is no need to make deterrence a priority.
Ms Merkel also said there is "no need to be particularly nasty in any way in the negotiations; they must be conducted properly".
German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said negotiations on Brexit should begin "as soon as possible".
He also added that "intensive European discussions" are needed about the future of the bloc.
Speaking after a meeting in Berlin with foreign ministers of the other five founding members of the EU, Mr Steinmeier said there is a need to "show the people of Europe that Europe is important, and not only important but able to carry out its work".
He also called for Britain to engage in talks sooner rather than later.
He said: "We understand and respect the result and understand that Great Britain will now concentrate on Great Britain," but added that Britain has a responsibility to work with the EU on exit terms.