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Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO says joint projects, not sanctions, should be investor focus

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund isn't worried about the ongoing U.S. sanctions on his country.

Jobs and businesses, says Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF, are key to reconnecting Russia and the U.S. "We really are open to strategic cooperation with U.S. leading corporations," Dmitriev said to CNBC's "Power Lunch" earlier today. He says his focus is on opportunities that create jobs both in the U.S. and in Russia, particularly ones that harness the infrastructure in Russia together with "U.S. capabilities and know-how."

This shared economic interest in jobs, says Dmitriev, is the key to restoring relations between the two countries.

Late last year, the outgoing Obama administration imposed additional sanctions on Russia following allegations by U.S. intelligence of Russian interference in the U.S. elections. The 2016 sanctions came on top of 2014 sanctions imposed by the American government and the European Union after Russia took control of Crimea.

On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump talked by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was described as "positive" and "a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair," by the White House in a statement. However, Trump said on Friday it was "very early" to talk about lifting any sanctions.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund was founded in 2011 by the Russian government to encourage direct investment in the country. Companies managed by the fund include hospital chains, children's shops, diamond producers and pharmaceutical companies.