Trump offers condolences, assistance to France's Macron after Notre-Dame fire: White House

U.S. President Donald Trump waves as the president walkd to Air Force One prior to departing Minnesota for Washington, DC at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota U.S., April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump during a phone call on Tuesday expressed condolences to French President Emmanuel Macron over the Notre-Dame fire that devastated the Parisian landmark and offered U.S. assistance in rehabilitating the cathedral, the White House said.

“Notre Dame will continue to serve as a symbol of France, including its freedom of religion and democracy,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “We remember with grateful hearts the tolling of Notre Dame’s bells on September 12, 2001, in solemn recognition of the tragic September 11th attacks on American soil. Those bells will sound again.”

Macron has pledged to rebuild the cathedral, which is considered among the finest examples of European Gothic architecture and visited by more than 13 million people from around the world a year.

Within 24 hours of Monday’s blaze, French companies and local authorities had pledged more than 700 million euros to rebuild the cathedral, including 500 million from the three billionaire families that own France’s luxury goods empires Kering, LVMH and L’Oreal.

The fire has also promoted fundraising among Americans, with New York-based French Heritage Society and the Go Fund Me crowdsourcing platform among the first to offer help.

The heritage charity Fondation du Patrimoine said it was too early to estimate the cost of the damages. Authorities say they suspected the fire was caused by accident.

(This story has been refiled to correct figure in paragraph four to 700 million, not 700 billion)

Reporting by David Alexander; Writing by Meredith Mazzilli