March 6, 2012 in Nation/World

Could Facebook help mend the Middle East?

Associated Press
 

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Israeli President Shimon Peres plans to visit Facebook headquarters today in what he describes as an effort to use social networking to mend divides governments have been unable to bridge.

Peres is scheduled to meet with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to launch the 88-year-old leader’s personal page aimed at creating a dialogue with young Arabs who live in countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

“The President will call on them to talk with him, to ask questions and to offer ideas to advance peace between peoples, not just between governments,” Peres’ staff said in a statement.

The visit comes as part of Peres’ four-day swing through Silicon Valley. Touring top tech companies has become a rite of passage for politicians and celebrities passing through the region.

The Israeli president will also take selected questions from the site’s users during an interview with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg that will be streamed live from the company’s website.

In addition to Facebook, Peres’ California itinerary includes meetings with leading venture capitalists and Google co-founder Sergey Brin in hopes of forging stronger ties with Israel’s tech industry.

President Obama became the first sitting head of state to visit Facebook’s headquarters when he came last year for a town hall meeting and interview led by Zuckerberg.

In September, Sandberg moderated a discussion at Facebook with leading Republicans. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan talked taxes and jobs while taking questions from the audience and online members.

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