Algeria will cooperate with France on boosting the use of the French language and culture once France agrees to promote Arabic in its schools, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Tuesday.
But he indicated that he had no plans to bring his country -- the world's second-largest French-speaking nation -- into La Francophonie, a group of more than 50 nations which use French in their official business.
Bouteflika, in Canada for a state visit, told journalists that he was in favor of cooperation between French-speaking states, but not if it meant a cultural battle with the English-speaking world.
"For us," he said, "la Francophonie began as a cultural undertaking. From that, it became a political enterprise."
"If one asks Algeria to strengthen an act of culture just to block another cultural axis -- in other words, the English-language culture -- that's a game not worth the effort," he said.
Bouteflika pointed out that the French culture was continuing to grow in his homeland, but complained that France was doing nothing to reciprocate with the Arabic culture.
"If France is ready to open its schools to ensure the spreading of the Arabic language, we are ready to study with France an exchange on the basis of noble ideas which recognize the universality of culture," he said -- OTTAWA (AFP).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )