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    Monaco prince could fly to North Pole on Russian airship

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    Albert II, Prince of Monaco, could join an international expedition to the North Pole on board a Russian airship next spring, a Russian lawmaker said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Albert II, Prince of Monaco, could join an international expedition to the North Pole on board a Russian airship next spring, a Russian lawmaker said on Tuesday.

    MP Leonid Slutsky, who co-organized an Arctic expedition on dog-pulled sledges for the prince in 2006, said Albert II, along with Deputy State Duma Speaker Artur Chilingarov and himself, attended the inauguration of the unique Au-30 dirigible in Marseilles on Friday.

    The planned expedition, to be led by French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne, will be the first such flight since 1926, when Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen flew to the North Pole.

    Dirigibles - large cucumber-shaped aircraft that use lighter-than-air gas to sustain flight - were common until the 1940s, but are now a rarity, used occasionally in advertising.

    "Albert II has shown a lively interest in the project, and the flight to the North Pole could be the prince's second 'Arctic project,'" Slutsky said.

    On his last Arctic trip the prince of Monaco rode dog-pulled sledges from the Russian polar station Barneo to the North Pole for six days, covering 93 km with a Russian-Monacan team.

    The 2008 spring expedition to the North Pole will be held as part of the International Polar Year, declared by the United Nations on Russia's initiative.

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