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BRUSSELS — Answering pleas from European leaders desperate for a way to speed up economic growth, President Obama said on Tuesday that the United States would begin talks on a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union.

Mr. Obama devoted a single sentence to the topic in his State of the Union address, but that was what proponents of a trade deal had been hoping for. His statement set the stage for talks to remove tariff barriers and regulatory hurdles between the United States and the European Union, which are already each other’s largest trading partners.

“And tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union,” Mr. Obama said, in the process also giving the potential pact a name. He added, “because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”

Karel De Gucht, the E.U. trade commissioner, said completing such a trade deal could take about two years, according to an advance copy of remarks he was expected to make in Brussels on Wednesday.


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