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ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump wants the Commerce Department to continue its probe into whether tariffs on auto imports are warranted despite ongoing trade talks with the European Union, but he asked that no action be taken at this time, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday.
"We've been directed by the president to continue the investigation, get our material together, but not actually implement anything pending the outcome of the negotiation," Ross told reporters aboard Air Force One. He said the department would wrap up its work next month.
Tariffs on foreign autos "may not be necessary or it may be necessary - we will see," Ross said.
Trump has threatened to impose 25 percent tariffs on auto imports, which would harm European carmakers such as BMW and Volkswagen. But the idea has been put on hold after Trump met with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House on Wednesday to discuss ongoing trade disputes.
Other U.S. officials on Thursday also touted an agreement with the EU to negotiate a solution.
"If we hadnt done the steel and aluminum tariffs and if we hadnt had the threat of automotive tariffs, we never would have gotten to the point where we are now," Ross said.
"Thats why we put up the tariffs - to put the pressure on. And it seems to be starting to work," he added. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Dan Grebler)