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Germany Willing To Help GM's Opel

German leaders are open to helping keep Opel factories open, but have insisted that GM Europe outline a long-term strategy with job security for the thousands of workers.

BERLIN (AP) -- German leaders are willing to help keep General Motors Corp.'s Opel factories open, but have insisted that the automaker's GM Europe unit outline a long-term strategy that includes job security for the thousands of workers in the country.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck underlined the requirement in comments published Thursday that Berlin remains willing to talk about possible aid for Adam Opel GmbH but repeated Chancellor Angela Merkel's insistence that GM first produce a viable plan.

"We are open to discussions because it is about 26,000 Opel employees and about as many jobs by the auto parts suppliers," Steinbrueck was quoted as saying in an interview with newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten.

Juergen Ruettgers, governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Opel has a factory in Bochum, said that a requirement for any government aid would include guarantees that its four factories remain open in Germany.

"The states with Opel factories are ready to help," Ruettgers told ZDF public television after talks Wednesday night with GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner in Detroit. "We want to keep Opel in Europe and in Germany and keep jobs in Germany."

GM Europe said Wednesday it was prepared to discuss possible partnerships or outside investment for Opel if that helps secure the long-term success of its business.

That came a day after the company announced it would cut 47,000 jobs globally by the end of the year -- 19 percent of its work force -- with jobs outside the U.S. accounting for 26,000 of the reductions. GM has said it needs about $6 billion in support from the governments of Canada, Germany, Britain Sweden and Thailand to provide liquidity for its operations in those countries.

GM Europe officials met with the German government in November to discuss possible loan guarantees but no decision has been made.

Opel also builds cars in Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Britain. It is the third-most popular brand in Germany, behind Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.

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