WASHINGTON – President Shimon Peres visited
social network giant Facebook's headquarters Tuesday in what he described as an effort to use social networking to mend divides governments have been unable to bridge.
Peres met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who helped him 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.
Peres also answered questions from the site's users during an interview with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, which were streamed live from the company's website.
When asked about Iran,
Peres said: "Iran is a corrupt country which permits terror and the hanging of innocent people. It is the only country in the world that calls for the destruction of another country – Israel and denies the Holocaust.
"Iran's ambition to acquire a nuclear weapon makes it a genuine threat, a catastrophe," he said.
"The Iranians have a fascinating culture… but the hateful elite group of Ayatollahs leading the country is the problem."
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.
Peres' Facebook page in Hebrew
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.