World and Nation

Debt plan is delayed over French-German disagreement

FRANKFURT, Germany — The grand plan is on pause.

Germany and France, still at odds over a more forceful response to the sovereign debt crisis, postponed a decision-making summit meeting for several days amid signs that the complexities of European politics may block an all-encompassing resolution.

The meeting planned for this weekend will still be used to examine proposals to strengthen Europe’s banks, increase the clout of the euro bailout fund, and better coordinate euro area economic policy, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said.

But a comprehensive plan will not be decided until a second summit meeting, set for no later than Wednesday, the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement. The French government issued a nearly identical statement.

The last-minute delay reinforced fears that European leaders were still far from containing a crisis that threatens the world economy.

“The politicians have been trying to solve the crisis, but a consistent effort has been missing,” Andreas Dombret, a member of the executive board of Bundesbank, the German central bank, told an audience in Berlin on Thursday. It was an unusually sharp criticism for an official to make about his political counterparts.

Market reaction to the postponement, which was announced after trading in Europe closed, was muted — the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index ended up nearly half a percent.