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Tech CEOs to Visit White House; Kushner Speaks

20 June 2017

Leaders at Apple and Google were among the American corporate executives who appealed to the president to stay in the pact.

Silicon Valley and Donald Trump have disagreed on many issues, most notably Trump's recent decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord and issues surrounding immigration.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who quit Trump's advisory council in February under mounting pressure, did also not attend.

At the first meeting of the American Technology Council - which the president established by executive order in May - Mr Trump stressed the need to "transform and modernise" the United States public sector's use of technology.

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"We don't often talk about how investing in technology infrastructure benefits individual American citizens working their way through school or building new skills to change careers, but it's top of mind for us as we share our expertise with the council, as we do with our many public sector customers across the country", Gelsinger said. Spicer added that it was "pretty telling", despite differences numerous CEOs have with Trump, that the administration was able to bring them together "to further the president's agenda and to bring ideas to the table".

A who's-who of technology names planned to attend, including Microsoft Corp.

The joke didn't appear to land well with some, specifically Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt; and International Business Machines Corp.

The Council, which was constituted under an executive order signed on May 1, aims at orienting the President and the federal government's use of technology policies and strategies. They are expected to discuss different issues including shrinking the government, reducing federal employees, improving government services, and eliminating regulations among others.

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Kushner kicked off the White House "Technology Week" as part of the administration's ongoing efforts to make progress on campaign promises. "Many of our federal systems are decades old, with our 10 oldest being between 39 and 56 years old".

"America should be the global leader in government technology just as we are in every other aspect, and we are going to start our big edge again in technology - such an important industry".

The officials also were to hold a discussion on the H-1B visa program, which Trump has pledged to scale back despite the objections from Silicon Valley.

The visit comes a month after Trump's maiden trip to the region, during which he met with Israeli and Palestinian officials and committed to working to bring both sides together in a lasting peace agreement.

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But much of the goodwill the industry may have been willing to extend the president at the beginning of his term in office has likely already been used up, as the White House has clashed with tech companies on a variety of issues, including immigration, encryption, and climate change.