WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday it was important for President-elect Donald Trump to send signals of unity after a bitterly fought campaign.

At a news conference, Obama declined to comment on Trump's selection of conservative provocateur Steve Bannon as his White House chief strategist.

But the Democratic president said he privately told the Republican Trump in an Oval Office meeting last week that because of the "bitterness and the ferocity of the campaign that it’s really important to try to send some signals of unity and to reach out to minority groups, to women and others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign."

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Alana Wise and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Peter Cooney)