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White House still hopes to finish US-EU trade deal this year

[WASHINGTON] The White House insisted Tuesday it still hopes to wrap up negotiations on a massive EU-US trade deal by year's end, after officials in France and Germany publicly called the pact into question.

"Our position on this has not changed," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. "We are continuing to work toward a goal of completing those negotiations before the end of the year."

Mr Earnest said President Barack Obama will send his top trade official to Europe in the coming weeks for further negotiations, pointedly rejecting French demands that talks be halted.

"There are significant aspects of the deal that need to be negotiated, but that's precisely why the president is sending his trade ambassador, Mike Froman, to travel to Europe in a couple of weeks to go continue those negotiations."

Talks began in 2013 but face considerable political headwinds in France, Germany and the United States, as the trio of countries all move toward government elections.

The agreement would create the world's largest free-trade area.