France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls has vowed to end the "apartheid" in impoverished neighbourhoods after backing a ban on Islamic headscarves in universities.

Valls led a group of ministers on a visit to Vaulx-en-Velin, near Lyon, where he addressed the local community on combating marginalisation of France's banlieues, regional newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré reports.

"When one believes in the Republic, we can not accept this reality of unequal potential," Valls said, stressing the need for greater "equality and citizenship" within banlieues.

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