Obama meets with Arab-American leaders ahead of Middle East trip

Reports said the groups that attended the meeting included the American Task Force for Palestine, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Federation of Ramallah Palestine and the Arab American Institute.

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The White House said Obama told the Arab-American representatives that he would use his visit to the Middle East as an opportunity to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the Palestinians, according to The Associated Press.

“We are pleased to have shared with President Obama our recommendations for the vital message that he should convey to the Palestinian people,” said the groups in a statement, after their meeting. "Today's meeting was an important opportunity for Arab Americans to share our views, and continue to serve as a bridge between the U.S. and the Arab world.”

The meeting came on the heels of similar talks Obama held with representatives from Jewish-American groups last week.

During that meeting, Obama reiterated his support for Israel’s security and pledged to defend the country from Iran’s nuclear threat.

Obama is scheduled to visit Israel, his first trip to the country as president, on March 20. He will also visit Ramallah and Jordan during the foreign tour.

CNN reported last week that Obama plans to issue a "clear and direct" challenge to Iran over its nuclear program during the visit, but is unlikely to unveil a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.