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Israeli vice premier Shimon Peres has told a gathering of internet entrepreneurs they can help bring peace to the Middle East using capitalism and innovation.

In an inspiring address to 1,000 delegates from 37 countries at the Le Web 3 conference here in Paris this morning, he encouraged startups to flock to the region in order to spread understanding through the common language of commerce.

"I feel as an Israeli that we hang too much on strategy and diplomacy and not enough on economy. I cannot see a political solution to the Middle East, but I can see an economic preparation for a political solution by introducing a modern economy.

"While all governments object to the introduction of other governments [as in Iraq], they welcome each of you. If you take the risk, you can really contribute seriously. Do it in the name of the future. Please do it company-wise, individual-wise; you will be received by open arms."

Before winning a standing ovation, Mr Peres said governments could no longer control borders or the homogeneity of their populations and that he "very much appreciated" that the internet, fuelled by private business, was helping unite people.

Asked his view of of latest Technorati statistics indicating there are 60 million blogs around the world, he said: "Why not 6 billion?".

"Today a man can create an econmic state of his own in a fair way," he added, before pointing to Big G: "Take the two young boys that created Google their budget is larger than that of any government in the Middle East - they didn't steal, they didn't chat - individual people are becoming creators of economies."

The 83-year-old was twice Israel's prime minister in the 1980s and 1990s and was latterly foreign affairs minister.

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Published 12 December, 2006 by Robert Andrews

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