The president Obama will invite Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley to join him for a beer in hopes of defusing the racial dispute.

The so-called beer summit will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the White House.

Weather permitting, they'll probably sit out at the picnic table behind the Oval Office, said Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, confirming the time.

The Harvard scholar has expressed his preference for Red Stripe, and the sergeant mentioned to Obama that he likes Blue Moon, Gibbs said.

This is not an after action report, Gibbs said, adding that the White House is not here to mediate any apologies.

The president is not going to announce anything, Gibbs just told reporters. He doesn't have a formal agenda tonight ... He hopes some of this will help foster a dialogue.

Whether Gates or Crowley speak to reporters after the meeting is up to them, Gibbs said. Both men will bring their families to the beer summit.