SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday visited Facebook's California headquarters, where he described the social networking service as a way for people to bypass the failed efforts of governments and seek peace across national boundaries on their own.
The 88-year-old leader was scheduled to meet with the company's chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, and launch his official personal page on the site aimed at creating a dialogue with Arabs who live in countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
In an interview with Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg streamed live on the company's website, Peres repeatedly praised Facebook as a tool for positive social change by enabling citizens of different countries to connect.
"The matter of peace is no longer the business of governments but the business of people," Peres said. "Today the people are governing the governments. And when they begin to talk to each other, they are surprised: We should be friends."
In response to a question from Sandberg about Iran's nuclear program, Peres said he had nothing against the Iranian people. At the same time, he condemned the Iranian government as a seat of "moral corruption."
"They want to have nuclear weapon. The combination of viciousness and nuclear weapons is a real catastrophe, a real danger," he said.
Iran denies it is seeking a weapon and insists its nuclear program is for energy production and other peaceful purposes.
Peres' appearance came as part of his four-day swing through Silicon Valley to promote Israel's tech industry. Touring the region's marquee tech companies has become a rite of passage for politicians and celebrities passing through Northern California.
His California itinerary includes meetings with leading venture capitalists and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
President Barack 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 about taxes and jobs and took questions from the audience and online members.
California Gov. Jerry Brown was scheduled to introduce Peres later Tuesday, when he is scheduled to appear before the congregation of Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco. Anti-war activists have said they will target the appearance to protest Israeli policy toward Palestinians, Iran and other issues.
Shimon Peres at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FBLive
Marcus Wohlsen can be reached on Twitter: http://twitter.com/marcuswohlsen