The European Union is ready to negotiate opening its markets wider to U.S. imports including cars, in a bid to avert a potential trade war with Washington, EU leaders said on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has imposed import duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum on grounds of national security but has granted EU producers an exemption until June 1 pending the outcome of talks.

EU leaders meeting at a summit in Sofia sought to find a common stance, balancing the interests of those such as Germany who are most keen to avoid a trade conflict and those including France most determined not to be bullied into concessions.

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