Google, AT&T and Twitter executives visit Iraq

A woman holds a Google T-Mobile G1 mobile telephone at a T-Mobile store in New York City, October 22, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Executives from Google Inc, AT&T Inc, Twitter and other high tech companies are visiting Iraq this week to explore how technology may help fight corruption and build a more accountable society, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

The department, which helped arrange the April 19-23 trip, said the executives would offer ideas on how new technologies could help foster transparency, strengthen civil society and generally empower people and local groups by providing the tools for network building.

“As Iraqis think about how to integrate new technology as a tool for smart power, we view this as an opportunity to invite the American technology industry to be part of this creative genesis,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

Other companies represented on the trip are Howcast, a website that offers how-to videos; Meetup, a website that helps people organize, or join, local communities; the video-sharing You Tube website; Automattic/Wordpress, which makes blogging software; and Blue State Digital, which provides tools for online fundraising, advocacy and social networking.

That the high-tech executives agreed to go on the trip in part reflects the improvement in the Iraqi security situation since former U.S. President George W. Bush’s 2007 decision to send additional U.S. troops to Iraq to quell its civil strife.

While violence has fallen sharply across most of the country, which the United States invaded in March 2003 to topple former dictator Saddam Hussein, there has been a spate of suicide bombings over the last month, including one on Monday that killed four policemen in northeastern Iraq.

Writing and reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Bill Trott