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In Silicon Valley, Obama says young start-up executives are the antidote to a global divide

As global markets recoiled from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, President Obama told a group of budding entrepreneurs that it was their job to bring the world closer together.

Speaking to crowd of nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs, investors and reporters at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University on Friday, the president addressed the elephant in the room — Britain’s exit from the EU — but was quick to steer the conversation back to the power of business leaders.

“The world needs your creativity and your energy and your vision,” Obama said. “You are going to be what helps this process of global integration work.

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“I believe we are better off in a world in which we’re trading and networking and communicating and sharing ideas, but that also means cultures are colliding, and sometimes it’s disruptive and people get worried,” he said. “You’re the bridge. You’re the glue.”

President Obama shared the stage with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and three start-up entrepreneurs — Mai Medhat, Jean Bosco and Mariana Costa Checa — who discussed the challenges their businesses faced and the role governments and the private sector can play to make it easier for companies to get off the ground.

Lending some levity to the discussion, President Obama quipped while taking off his jacket that he couldn’t wear a T-shirt like Zuckerberg, who turned up in his signature gray tee. At least, not until his presidential term ends. “But soon,” he said, “soon.”

tracey.lien@latimes.com

Twitter: @traceylien

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