Obama Meets Arab Americans Ahead of Mideast Trip

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Just days ahead of his Mideast trip, President Barack Obama on Monday met with about 10 leaders of Arab American groups who encouraged him to deliver a message of hope to the Palestinian people even if he is unable to immediately deliver a peace plan with Israel.

Obama met with the officials Monday, four days after meeting with Jewish activists as part of his preparation for the visit.

The White House has not publicly announced the dates for the trip. Israeli news media have reported Obama will arrive on March 20. Obama will also make stops in Ramallah and Jordan.

The meeting took place in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, just steps away from the Oval Office. Participants said that in addition to Obama, members of his national security team and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett also participated.

One participant in the meeting, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations, said he got the impression that Obama was treating his Mideast visit as an “exploratory trip.” He said both sides emphasized the need for follow-up after the trip to ensure momentum doesn’t fade away.

Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he left with a “bittersweet feeling.”

Meeting last week with Jewish activists, Obama said he did not intend to deliver “grand peace plan.”