French-led peace talks on the Middle East, which had been expected by the end of the month, will be delayed to accommodate the schedule of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
French President Francois Hollande told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday that the talks, originally scheduled for May 30, would take place sometime during the European summer.
The initiative is an effort to reinvigorate progress toward peace in the Middle East. As planned, it would initially convene with important partners, but exclude Israeli and Palestinian authorities. The French hope that beginning with non-direct talks could help ease the way for an agreement later.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is opposed to international conference, insisting on direct negotiations. The Palestinians have welcomed the French effort.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was in Jerusalem over the weekend to speak with Netanyahu, and Prime Minister Manuel Valls is scheduled to visit Israel and Palestinian territory on Saturday.