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French Prime Minister Announces Plans to Help Urban Poor

France has unveiled plans to improve education and tackle job discrimination, as part of new measures to expand opportunities following three weeks of riots in largely ethnic North African-inhabited areas.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told his monthly news conference Thursday the country must strive to make equality of opportunity a reality for everyone - with the focus on jobs and education. He pledged to direct more aid to education districts with mainly low-income populations, and he outlined plans for a contract of parental responsibility to ensure that parents are involved in their children's education.

Mr. de Villepin also said acts of discrimination will be punishable by fines of up to $30,000.

The new measures follow the country's worst civil unrest in almost 40 years. The deaths in late October of two teenagers hiding from police near Paris set off the rioting.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.