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Obama in private confab with Jobs, Zuckerberg, Schmidt

Careful with the place cards!

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President Obama will sit down with a pack of Silicon Valley tech titans on Thursday evening in San Francisco. Among the attendees: Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Google soon-to-be-ex-CEO Eric Schmidt.

"The president and the business leaders will discuss our shared goal of promoting American innovation, and discuss his commitment to new investments in research and development, education and clean energy," a White House official said.

Although the White House hasn't yet released the closed-to-the-press meeting's guest list, "a source familiar with the event" told ABC News that Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Schmidt would attend the private confab.

Both Facebook and Google have chipped in to support Obama's entrepreneur-supporting Startup America Partnership, and in a recent speech on the US economy, the POTUS praised Apple's CEO, saying: "We celebrate somebody like a Steve Jobs, who has created two or three different revolutionary products."

Jobs' attendance is surprising in light of his ongoing medical leave of absence from Apple. There's been no official word from Cupertino concerning the state of his heath, but unofficial reports range from The Wall Street Journal saying that he "has been seen on Apple's Cupertino, California, campus and in public in Palo Alto, California" to pathetic scandal rag celebrity gossip magazine National Enquirer quoting an "expert" who, after seeing photos purportedly taken outside a Stanford cancer center, opined: "I would say he has six weeks [to live]."

Apparently Jobs is healthy enough that he can sit through a meeting alongside Schmidt without his bloodpressure skyrocketing. The two have had what can only be described as a stormy relationship, especially since Schmidt left Apple's board of directors in August 2009. CNBC's Jim Goldman, for example, has said that multiple sources have told him that "Steve Jobs simply hates Eric Schmidt" – although the two were spotted having coffee together in Palo Alto last March.

Although Jobs and Schmidt would certainly have a lot to talk about – Google's increasing competition with Apple in the form of Android, Chrome OS, and the Nexus smartphone, for starters – Obama will certainly have more overarching topics on his mind: such as how the tech sector might help lift US employment figures out of the doldrums.

Perhaps Facebook's take on recent world events might also crop up – a topic about which Zuckerberg would be certain to have a characteristically überconfident opinion. When asked at a press briefing on Wednesday whether the role of social networking "in the revolutions in North Africa" would be discussed in the meeting, Obama's new press secretary Jay Carney said: "The purpose of the discussion is on innovation. Obviously other topics could come up."

Innovation, yes, but lowercase "jobs" is what Obama is most concerned about. "I think the focus of the discussion is innovation and job creation," Carney said, "and these are representatives of businesses who can – who know a lot about private sector job growth."

When he was asked when the full attendee list would be made available, Carney responded: "We'll release a list when we have it to give it to you." Which, apparently, hasn't yet happened.

After all, either Jobs or Schmidt might decide at the last minute that the unpleasantness of sitting next to each other wouldn't be outweighed by the opportunity of making a case for tech-related tax breaks to The Most Powerful Man in the Free world. ®

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