Paris, San Francisco ink 'digital sister-cities' pact

21st April 2006, Comments 0 comments

SAN FRANCISCO, April 20, 2006 (AFP) - The French flag flew and champagne flowed on Thursday as mayors of Paris and San Francisco signed a "digital sister-cities" pact to foster collaboration between technology entrepreneurs.

SAN FRANCISCO, April 20, 2006 (AFP) - The French flag flew and champagne flowed on Thursday as mayors of Paris and San Francisco signed a "digital sister-cities" pact to foster collaboration between technology entrepreneurs.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom inked the alliance on a marble balcony overlooking the domed San Francisco City Hall, following a meeting of a French high-tech delegation with their local counterparts.

"Signing this memorandum is a digital culture we are establishing, to unite all the cities of the world," Delanoë told the French and California contingents during their meeting.

"I am here not only to learn, but to imitate, so Paris can be a silicon city right after San Francisco and access wi-fi (wireless Internet connections)."

San Francisco recently accepted a combined bid by US Internet firms Google and EarthLink to install free wireless computer connections throughout the city.

Government and technology firm representatives who accompanied Delanoë from Paris were eager to learn San Francisco's blueprint for synergy between start-up companies, schools, researchers, investors and public agencies.

"It's a lot like coming to the Mecca for us and trying to rebuild our own Mecca," Stéphane Distinguin, president of Silicon Sentier in Paris, told AFP. "It is a way of coming here with humility and doing our best for a digital revolution in France."

The international esteem held for French fashion, clothing, cuisine and elegance could be easily be spread to innovative technologies, said Distinguin.

"I want Paris to have San Francisco's energy," Delanoe said. "To be part of the 21st century. This is an important moment."

"Signing this memorandum is a commitment to establish a digital culture and unite all the cities of the world."

San Francisco has focused on creating fertile ground for biotechnology, nanotechnology, environmentally sensitive 'green' businesses and stem-cell research as well as digital media, Newsom told the gathering.

US firms represented at the meeting included Lucas Films and Pixar along with movie computer special-effects houses Wild Brain and The Orphanage.

San Francisco has digital sister-city alliances with Toronto, Prague, Singapore, Skopje in Macedonia, Madras in India, Guadalajara in Mexico and the country of Ireland.

"We have been working around the globe to build sister-city relationships," Newsom said. "It is time to invest in connecting San Francisco to the rest of the world in a meaningful way."

The relationships with Ireland and Toronto have proven particularly fruitful, Newsom said.

Delanoë was to tour Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, Thursday before joining Newsom to launch San Francisco's International Film Festival at a theater in the unabashedly gay Castro District.

Delanoë said that while he and Newsom extensively discussed nurturing technology industries and ways to curb homelessness and poverty, they did not touch on Gavin's bid to legalize gay marriages in San Francisco.

"Nothing needed to be said," Delanoë told AFP. "We already agree that everyone should be equal whatever their identity."

Delanoë arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday and his scheduled included a planned visit to Lucas Films campus in the San Francisco Presidio. He was to leave for Montreal, Canada, on Saturday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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