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    Head of Russia's Skolkovo research hub Viktor Vekselberg signed an agreement on Tuesday with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the maintenance and protection of the U.S. Fort Ross national park

    Head of Russia's Skolkovo research hub Viktor Vekselberg signed an agreement on Tuesday with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the maintenance and protection of the U.S. Fort Ross national park.

    Fort Ross is a former Russian settlement with a wooden fortress on the Pacific Coast, 80 km (50 miles) north of San Francisco. It is a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. California cut funding to its national landmarks in 2008 because of the financial downturn.

    "The fact that such an exceptional historic object like Fort Ross is located here interested me," Viktor Vekselberg said. "The arrival of Russians on the west coast of the United States as early as the beginning of the 18th century...is significant, interesting and symptomatic."

    The tycoon did not say how much money he was prepared to put aside for the protection of the site but said he hoped other Russian companies, including those operating in the United States, would support the preservation of the national legacy.

    Vekselberg is best known outside Russia for returning a Faberge jeweled egg collection to the country in 2004.

    He is currently on a five-day visit to the United States as part of a Russian delegation headed by President Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian leader began his tour in California, where he is visiting Silicon Valley to get ideas for the creation of Russia's own hi-tech research hub in Skolkovo, near Moscow.

    Medvedev, who seeks to diversify the Russian economy by reducing its dependence on oil and gas exports, has made developing hi-tech sectors and encouraging research the focal point of his economic agenda.

    "I think the outcome of this visit will be the establishment of new relations between the Skolkovo project, which I am in charge of, and our partners," Vekselberg said.

    Medvedev will travel from California to Washington, DC, for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama. He will then head to Canada to attend the G8 summit in Huntsville from June 25-26 and the G20 summit in Toronto from June 26-27.

    SAN FRANCISCO, June 23 (RIA Novosti)

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