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Mark Zuckerberg (Robert Scoble photo/November 2010)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in Seattle today, visiting the company’s fledgling office across the street the Pike Place Market — its only major engineering center outside of its Palo Alto headquarters, with about 40 people.

Before speaking at a tech talk/recruiting event for local software engineers this evening, Zuckerberg sat down with a small group of reporters and talked about the company’s presence in the Seattle region. The company says it was inspired to open the office here after noticing that it was hiring people from Seattle and moving them down to Palo Alto.

“There’s so many good engineers up here, largely from Microsoft and Amazon traditionally, and then Google a bit more recently,” Zuckerberg said, adding that “there’s a really good startup scene up here, as well.”

Of course, positive comments like that are to be expected from a CEO whose company is competing for top talent and looking to make nice with a region where it’s expanding. But Zuckerberg seemed to mean it, and he pointed to areas where the Seattle office is starting to have an impact on the broader company.

Facebook’s Seattle office is “starting to get to the scale where we’re attracting really good people and we’re starting to lead a bunch of projects from out here.” He cited Facebook’s recently launched unified mobile site as an example, and also “a cool thing next week that you guys will have to stay tuned on.”

Asked about the company’s growth plans and noted that Facebook is more focused on finding the top engineers, as opposed to growing for the sake of it. He pointed to the massive growth years experienced by companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft at different points in their history, and said Facebook isn’t looking to follow suit.

“I really just don’t think a culture can sustain that,” he said.

Facebook is one in a wave of companies from California that have opened engineering offices in the Seattle region over the past year — including Salesforce.com, Zynga, and Hulu — contributing to increased demand for top tech talent.

FOLLOW-UP: Facebook’s Zuckerberg: TV, books, movies next in line for social disruption

Note: The photo of Zuckerberg above was taken by Robert Scoble last November.

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