Russian leader Medvedev plugs into Silicon Valley

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev started his first US visit with a stop in California to tap into the innovative power that has made Silicon Valley a hotbed for winning technology firms.

Medvedev met with actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger late Tuesday after arriving in San Francisco.

Apple, Google, Twitter, and Cisco were on his itinerary for the following day and he is reportedly interested in getting talent or pacts from the Silicon Valley stars.

"My purpose is not just to see what is going on there, it is not a guided tour," Medvedev said through an interpreter while chatting with Schwarzenegger at a hotel in San Francisco's upscale Russian Hill neighborhood.

"I would like to have my visit be translated into full-fledged relations and into cooperation with those companies."

Schwarzenegger offered to put together a trade delegation to "help in any way possible to improve and build on the already fast growing economy in Russia."

Medvedev welcomed the proposal, referring to California as a linchpin in the US economy.

The Russian president is interested in recreating Silicon Valley's winning formula in a technology "hub" outside of Moscow to diversify the economy, which relies heavily on oil production.

"We know you are very interested not only in developing and diversifying the economy but also you are very interested in nuclear disarmament," Schwarzenegger said to Medvedev.

"I want to tell you how much I appreciate that."

Former US secretary of state George Shultz was at the meeting and took the opportunity to hand Medvedev a copy of the newly released documentary "Nuclear Tipping Point" he helped to create.

Russian-US ties are enjoying a renaissance after Medvedev and his US counterpart Barack Obama signed the long-awaited landmark Cold War-era nuclear disarmament treaty in Prague in April.

Schwarzenegger drew laughter from Medvedev with recollections of spending a snowy winter in Russian filming "Red Heat" during his action hero movie star days and of being motivated by Russian weightlifters to become a body builder.

"San Francisco is a beautiful city," Medvedev said as his chat with Schwarzenegger turned social.

"The weather keeps changing every two or three minutes so the picture is changing all the time. It is very difficult to work in this city because one wants to enjoy it."

© 2010 AFP

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