Germany Welcomes Obama's EU-U.S. Free Trade Call

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media during a statement at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.
Associated Press + More

BERLIN (AP) — Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has welcomed President Barack Obama's endorsement of free trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel says Obama's comments "were probably the most important signal to Europe" during his State of the Union address Tuesday.

[PHOTOS: President Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address]

Steffen Seibert says a free trade deal would be a "valuable contribution toward more growth and jobs" on both sides of the Atlantic.

Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that Germany hopes the groundwork for formal negotiations can be laid before the end of June.

[READ: Obama Sketches a Broad Agenda in State of the Union]

Obama's comments boost the profile of previously low-level talks between the U.S. and European Union that could result in the world's biggest free trade area if major differences over agricultural goods can be overcome.

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