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Updated from 1:30 p.m. EDT

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

has been in separate talks about potential mergers with fellow Big Three automakers

Chrysler

and

Ford

(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report

, according to published media reports.

Citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, both

The New York Times

and

The Wall Street Journal

reported that GM recently has conducted talks with Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity equity firm that owns Chrysler.

The

Journal

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reported that the talks have become inactive because of the crisis in financial markets but added that if markets stabilize, GM and Cerberus could renew discussions.

The

Times

reported that the talks began more than a month ago and said a possible merger would probably require weeks to conclude.

Cerberus, which owns 51% of auto lender GMAC, has proposed a swap in which GM would get Chrysler's automative operations, while Cerberus would receive the remaining 49% stake in GMAC, the

Journal

reported.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, the

Journal

also reported that in recent months GM approached

Ford

about a possible merger. But Ford called off the discussions after it decided it should continue to remain independent, the

Journal

reported. The talks were exploratory and very preliminary in nature, according to an anonymous source quoted by the

Journal

.

American automakers find themselves in an extremely difficult environment.

Car sales

are down as consumers feel the effects of the slowing economy, and as the financial crisis has made it difficult for potential car buyers to get loans. High

fuel prices

have turned consumers away from gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles, which had long been big sellers for Detroit.

The conditions for GM and Ford have become so grim that both companies were forced to issue statements Friday saying they were not considering filing for bankruptcy.

Shares of GM closed Friday up 13 cents at $4.89. Shares of Ford finished the session down 9 cents at $1.99.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.