PARIS (AP) — France's finance minister says the government didn't oppose a merger deal between carmaker Renault and Italian-American rival Fiat Chrysler.

Speaking on FranceInfo news broadcaster, Bruno le Maire said the government's key priority is to strengthen the alliance of Renault with its longtime Japanese partner Nissan.

He said a merger with Fiat Chrysler "remains an interesting opportunity."

He added: "We have never vetoed it. We simply asked five additional days to study the operation." He noted that Nissan was hesitant about it.

Fiat Chrysler had proposed a 50-50 merger that would have created the world's third-largest carmaker worth almost $40 billion. Earlier this month, the group pulled the proposal, citing political conditions in France.

The French state is Renault's biggest shareholder with a 15% stake.

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