Italian car company Fiat says it is interested in taking over Opel, the German division of financially troubled U.S. carmaker General Motors.

Fiat chief Luca Cordero di Montezemolo told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper that Opel is an "ideal partner."  He said a takeover would be an "extraordinary opportunity."

Opel has been suffering through the world economic crisis along with many other global automakers.  But the German government says it has no plans to offer direct help to Opel.

Fiat is involved in plans to buy another beleaguered U.S. car company, Chrysler, which entered into bankruptcy protection last week.

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