G7 pledges to speed work on transatlantic free trade pact

KRUEN, Germany (Reuters) - Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialized democracies pledged on Monday to speed up work on a transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) deal that has provoked fierce opposition on both sides of the Atlantic. A final communique at the end of a G7 summit in German said: "We will immediately accelerate work on all TTIP issues, ensuring progress in all the elements of the negotiations, with the goal of finalizing understandings on the outline of an agreement as soon as possible, preferably by the end of this year." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was very important that U.S. President Barack Obama, whose term expires at the beginning of 2017, receive fast track authority from Congress to conclude the talks fast. (Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing by Noah Barkin)