- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - China and Russia are the top two priorities for the Alliance Francaise, the leading global institute promoting French language and culture, a top official of the group said.

Alliance Francaise Secretary-General Jean-Claude Jacq, in Uruguay to open a cultural center, told Agence France-Presse during the weekend that the institute is opening centers “at a frenetic pace” in China, but that its offerings are still “far below the demand.”

Three of the most recent Alliance Francaise centers opened in the Chinese cities of Xian, Chengdu and Dalian, he said.

Another center is scheduled to open within the next three months in Kazakhstan, Mr. Jacq said.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, “we have been responding to a very strong demand to learn French in Russia and in all the countries of the former Soviet empire, and especially in China,” he went on. Though Mr. Jacq concedes that English is the premier international language, he said there is a need for a second widely used global language “and French is undoubtedly the one best-placed” to fill that need.

Founded in 1883, the Alliance Francaise, which operates in partnership with local Francophiles, has 1,081 local associations in 135 countries.

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