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White House Still Weighing Fate of Auto Giants

A White House spokesman says officials are still trying to decide how to save the faltering U.S. auto companies.

Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto says officials are still looking at financial data. He says they want to make sure any bailout of the Big Three - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - is in the best interest of U.S. taxpayers.

Officials have been in talks with General Motors and Chrysler to finalize details of a rescue package based on the $700 billion set aside to aid the banking industry. More help could soon be on the way from Canada.

Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement announced Friday an estimated $3 billion in loans to the car companies but only if the U.S government comes through with an industry-wide bailout first.

General Motors (GM) and Chrysler say they will collapse in January without government help. Canada, like the U.S., is worried about losing countless jobs.

The Center for Automotive Research, a U.S. research institution, warns the collapse of just one of the Big Three would wreak havoc on related industries, costing the U.S. 2.5 million jobs. And the British newspaper, The Financial Times, says if GM is forced to file for bankruptcy, it would be the "biggest industrial failure in U.S. history."

The potential collapse of one of the major U.S. automakers also worries their biggest rivals. In a statement, Japanese automaker Toyota warned a major bankruptcy will make it harder for all car companies.

Automakers and parts suppliers from Europe to India also are frightened. Countries like Sweden and Brazil have already moved forward with plans to support their struggling carmakers. And European leaders are under pressure to come up with loans and other aid for major auto companies.

U.S. President George Bush initially resisted requests from Democratic congressional leaders to use money from the massive financial sector bailout to help the carmakers. But he changed his stance after a short-term, $14 billion loan package for the automakers died in the Senate Thursday night when Democrats and Republicans could not agree on the details of the legislation.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is urging Congress and the Bush administration to "find a way" to aid the battered U.S. automakers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.