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MOSCOW, July 7 (Reuters) -- Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama made a pointed quip on Tuesday about Russia's sale of Alaska to the United States in the 19th century.

Referring to the long history of Russia-U.S. trade stretching back more than two centuries, Obama told an audience of business people in Moscow:

"Along the way, you gave us a pretty good deal on Alaska. Thank you."

Tsar Alexander II's sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million in gold, around 1.9 cents per acre, was regarded by Russians as a national disgrace -- particularly once it became clear that the province was rich in oil.

Moscow was short of cash at the time.

-- Luke Allnutt

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