Medvedev visit: High tech - and Gold Rush history, too

Other News Materials 24 June 2010 05:05 (UTC +04:00)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came to California Wednesday looking for help with his vision of a high tech Russian Silicon Valley, DPA reported.

But he also brought a gift for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - a commitment by a Russian private company to help California preserve a historic Russian landmark from the 19th century Gold Rush.

After meeting with Medvedev, Schwarzenegger's office announced he had signed an agreement with Russia's Renova Group of Companies, which would provide financial support to keep the landmark, Fort Ross, open.

Renova head Viktor Vekselberg was apparently on hand for the signing. Vekselberg is Medvedev's point-person to oversee the creation of a Russian high tech centre in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo.

Fort Ross was an agricultural colony established in 1812 under a charter from the tsarist government that supported trade and Russian immigrants to the West Coast and Alaska for decades during the Gold Rush. One of Californias oldest state parks, it is now only open three days a week after harsh state cutbacks.

Schwarzenegger said Russian support for the park highlighted "the diverse history of California and the importance of Russian culture to our state," according to a statement his office issued.

Medvedev, who will meet in Washington with US President Barack Obama on Thursday, is not leaving California empty-handed.

Medvedev won backing from Schwarzenegger, who pledged to put together a technology trade mission to Moscow to help with the Skolkovo project.

Russia is largely dependent on tech imports in recent years after its heavy focus on energy and metals since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"I would like that as a result of this trip we start full-fledged relations that will lead to establishing powerful cooperation," Medvedev said.

Medvedev was also to meet with Apple and Twitter executives. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt had already agreed to join Skolkovos board before the Medvedev visit, Bloomberg reported.

Vekselberg said that San Jose-based Cisco will also join the Skolkovo centre efforts, according to Bloomberg financial news. And Chicago-based Boeing Co is expected to make a similar commitment on Thursday.

The Obama administration is enthusiastic about Medvedev's technology initiative, and sees it as the palpable outcome of a year of hard work to reset a relationship that had gone adrift. Among the successes in the security arena, Obama's advisors cite the New Start Treaty on nuclear nonproliferation and Russian support for stronger UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

Obama sees Medvedev's high tech push as "something that will unleash growth for Russia" and increase opportunity for US exports and jobs, an Obama advisor said Tuesday.