Moved by a shared history with the southern United States, the French government will continue to offer assistance to Gulf Coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina, including help in reconstructing the city of New Orleans, French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte said in a visit to Atlanta last Sunday.

“There was a real wave of solidarity throughout France after this happened,” Mr. Levitte said during an Atlanta reception to recognize those who contributed to the French government’s relief efforts in the wake of the storm.

“It was as important as if it had happened in France,” he said, citing French former ownership of the city of New Orleans and American participation in the liberation of France during World War II, as being shared historical roots that continue to unite the two countries.

Mr. Levitte, who recently visited Houston and South Louisiana, including New Orleans, to survey the impact of the hurricane, said that France’s commitment to the relief efforts would extend to help in reconstructing French art and architecture throughout New Orleans.

In particular, the French-based cement and construction company, Lafarge North America Inc., which has pledged $1 million to support their employees directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, is also considering a partnership with Habitat for Humanity International Inc. to help in the reconstruction efforts of neighborhoods near New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Mr. Levitte also announced that politicians from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana would be invited to the French Embassy in Washington for a fundraising effort on Nov. 1.

And musicians from Louisiana, the birthplace of jazz and zydeco, a music influenced by the French-Acadians who arrived in the Louisiana Territory after being evicted from Canada in the mid 1700s, would be offered venues to play their music throughout France. The country plans to open its music venues with a Nov. 7 kick-off concert in Paris organized by French singer and songwriter Francis Cabrel and Louisiana accordionist, Zachary Richard.

“It’s very important to the think of the duration. [The victims of the hurricane] still have problems to deal with,” Mr. Levitte said during the reception, which was held at the residence of Philippe Ardanaz, French consul general in Atlanta.

Mr. Levitte’s announcements were the latest in a series of French contributions to relief efforts coming from both the public and private sectors.

The French government has donated more than 18 tons of supplies to the relief efforts, as well as 17 military personnel sent to the Gulf Coast from a French military base on Martinique.

French-based companies that have made substantial contributions to the relief efforts include Airbus S.A.S., BNP Parisbas, American Eurocopter LLC, Lafarge S. A., Michelin N.A., Sanofi-Aventis, Sodexho N.A., Veolia Environnement and Zodiac of North America Inc.

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