President holds lengthy meeting on police-community relations

President Barack Obama pauses while making a statement on Afghanistan from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. The president said the U.S. will leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan when he completes his term, down slightly from the current number but well up from the 5,500 he announced previously, arguing America's interests depend on helping Afghanistan's struggling government fight continuing threats from the Taliban and others. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama says America is “not even close” to where it needs to be in terms of resolving issues between police and the communities they serve.

The president made the remark after concluding a more than three-hour meeting Wednesday with community activists, politicians and law enforcement officials.

But Obama expressed optimism and said the participants – who included members of the Black Lives Matter movement – agreed such conversations need to continue despite emotions running raw.

Obama has devoted his attention this week to hostilities directed at police officers as well as shootings by police. The focus comes a few days after a black Army veteran killed five police officers in revenge for police shooting black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the Minneapolis suburbs.

His White House meeting came a day after Obama attended a memorial service for the Dallas officers.

Obama said it would be key to repeat the “kind of respectful conversations” that happened during his private meeting.

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