President Shimon Peres Thursday met with Pope Benedict XVI and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks starting in Washington topped the agenda.
The Vatican said the two men met for 40 minutes at the pope's vacation residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.
Officials said a Vatican communique is expected.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are scheduled to sit down in Washington Thursday for what American officials hope will be the first in a series of meetings that lead to an agreement on the creation of a Palestinian state.
Peres has been a leading voice calling for such talks between the two leaders.