Source AP ©

President Putin flies with Prince Albert II to visit fortress on Mongolian border

President Vladimir Putin and Prince Albert II of Monaco arrived by helicopter Monday morning in Kyzil, the capital of the Tuva republic. Then flew 250 kilometers (150 miles) by helicopter to an island in Lake Tere-Khol. Russian television showed them arriving and entering a yurt, a tent used by Mongolian nomads, where they were likely to be served something to eat.

The island is the site of the Por-Bazhyn fortress, a labyrinth of clay built more than 1,200 years ago when the region was ruled by the Uighurs.

A camp was set up on the island this summer for an archaeological expedition to prepare for the restoration of the fortress, a project promoted by the emergency situations minister, Sergei Shoigu, a native of Tuva. Shoigu accompanied the president and his royal guest.

On Sunday, Putin welcomed Albert to Peterhof, a sprawling 18th-century czarist summer estate on the shore of the Gulf of Finland near his hometown, St. Petersburg. They went for a stroll amid an array of gardens and playful fountains before sitting down for a meeting in the ornate Grand Palace.

At the start of their meeting, Putin thanked Albert for backing Russia's successful bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. The prince, who represents Monaco on the International Olympic Committee, attended last month's IOC meeting in Guatemala, which awarded the Games to Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

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