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Israeli president begins 4-day visit to LA

March 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Israeli president Shimon Peres began a four-day visit to Los Angeles on Thursday amid growing concern by Israel over Iran's nuclear program.

Peres was expected to attend a forum at the Beverly Hilton, and the situation between Israel and Iran will be on the agenda. The big concern is Iran's growing ability to develop nuclear weapons. The forum will also likely cover Israeli innovation and technology, and Israel's contributions to the entertainment industry.

Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren, L.A.-based Consul General David Siegel, and Jewish Federation board chair Richard Sandler and President Jay Sanderson, also will participate in the conversation at the Hilton.

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C. meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss Iran. Netanyahu signaled that there is still a chance for these countries to work it out. Peres has always made it clear the situation between Israeli and Iran is not a fight between the Israeli people and the Iranian people.

"I have nothing against the Iranians. The Iranians have a historically rich culture. I don't feel any hate to them. But there is a small group of terror of hatred of quantity of killing is the great story of Iran," said Peres.

Earlier this week, Peres was in the Bay Area, where he made a visit to Facebook's headquarters. He even created his own Facebook page with a flashy video inviting people to "be my friend for peace."

"I am truly excited to write the first post on my wall. I hope to find this page to be a place where peace dreamers and believers speak up and share their stories and experiences with me," Peres wrote. "Facebook empowers us. So let's dare to believe, start to change our world and create a better tomorrow. I want to hear your voice."

The 88-year-old is a former foreign minister, defense minister and prime minister who has been serving as his country's ninth titular head of state since July 2007. In 1994, he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with the late Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for their efforts to forge a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

On Friday, Peres is expected to visit DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, where he will talk about the role of Hollywood and education in Israel and around the world. He will also attend a Hollywood reception on Saturday and meet with Latino and Jewish leaders on Sunday, according to Israeli Consulate spokeswoman Marina Rozhansky.

City News Service contributed to this report.