Washington (CNN) - Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel met at the White House Friday with leaders of several major American Jewish organizations as he tries to answer criticism of his past remarks and stances, several groups confirmed to CNN.
The participants refused to discuss the specifics of the meeting. The groups at the hour-long session included the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Committee.
Several of those groups have raised concerns about Hagel's past views on Israel, his use of the term "Jewish lobby," and whether he would support unilateral sanctions against Iran. Not all of the groups have opposed Hagel's nomination – AIPAC, for example, does not take public positions on nominations.
A statement from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations described the meeting as "an important opportunity for a serious and thorough discussion of key issues of importance to all of us."
Vice President Joe Biden also joined the meeting along with White House officials, the statement read.
Confirmation hearings for Hagel at the Senate Armed Services Committee are set to begin January 31.