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France raises support for mathematics centre

1 July 1999

[BUDAPEST] France told the World Conference yesterday that it plans to increase its support for the International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics (CIMPA), in Nice, and would also be prepared to back other centres similar to the Abdus Salam Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, providing that this was done in partnerhip with other nations.

Guy Ourisson, President of the French Academy of Sciences, pledged extra support for CIMPA at yesterday's plenary session. Speaking of the need to reduce the gap between rich and poor countries, Ourisson said that international co-operation was indispensable.

Jean Audouze, director of the Palais de la Découverte in Paris and a member of the French delegation, said that in launching the mathematics centre, France had wanted "to do the same for mathematics as the Abdus Salam did for physics, preventing mathematicians from having to work alone".

Audouze says France is offering a few million francs, which represents an increased commitment to the centre. "What is new is the size [of support]. France has decided to operate a higher scale and at a concrete level". Instead of support determined annually, the new centre might expect at least a decade of commitment. This money does not include salaries, which will be provided for separately by France and Unesco.

Audouze says that France is keen to become involved in similar initiatives in other topic areas, such as biology. "We would be delighted to join at a junior level". France also supports the creation of international university networks. "It is clear that developing countries should perform fundamental research in order to join the 'invisible college of scholars'," he explains. From this they can obtain the specialist knowledge they need to solve societal problems, but also can call on related colleagues to help them solve problems.

"We want to encourage developing country scientists to get involved in a network of institutes without walls. If developing countries had problems that needed expertise, two or three scientists or technicians from the developed world could be sent to come in and help on a fellowship".


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