Obama vows to help US car industry

The troubled US car industry is a "high priority" of President-elect Barack Obama's administration, it has emerged.

The economic crisis has hit US motor manufacturers hard and the industry - including the big three of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - has asked the US Congress for $50 billion (£33 billion) in loans to help it survive and fund its healthcare obligations.

Mr Obama's first Oval Office talks at the White House saw the Democrat urge President George Bush to back the deal.

The car industry is the "backbone of American manufacturers", Mr Obama said, and a key part of the nation's work to reduce its dependence upon foreign oil.

Both General Motors (GM) and Ford have reported third-quarter operating losses collectively totalling almost £5 billion. GM has warned that it may run out of operating cash by the end of June.

During the Oval Office meeting, Mr Obama talked about the urgency for aid to US carmakers and the need for a second economic stimulus package to help financially-strapped workers, aides to the president-elect said.

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