Obama Downplays Hopes for Mideast Peace Deal

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President Obama is downplaying expectations for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority during his upcoming trip to the Jewish state, but he will caution both sides against taking "unilateral" actions that will further complicate the process.

During a meeting Thursday with American Jewish leaders at the White House, the president said he would not be bringing a peace plan when he visits Israel later this month.

"That doesn't mean six or nine or 12 months from now we won't be in the midst of a policy initiative," Obama told participants.

"The president noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue, but is rather an opportunity to consult with the Israeli government about a broad range of issues, including Iran, Syria, the situation in the region and the peace process," a senior administration official told The Times of Israel.

"He also underscored that the trip is an opportunity for him to speak directly to the Israeli people about the history, interests and values that we share," the official said.

Obama admits that near-term prospects for peace are bleak, but he believes a deal with the Palestinians is the only way for Israel to achieve long-term security.

The White House has not released the specific dates of the president's trip.

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