Dubai Ports offers delay

Feb. 23, 2006 at 11:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Dubai-based port operator has offered to delay plans to run six U.S. seaports, CNN reported Thursday.

Dubai Ports World, based in the United Arab Emirates, has entered into a $6.8 billion deal with British port operator P&O to manage a number of ports worldwide -- including six in the United States. News of the deal sparked a bipartisan firestorm of protest -- with many congressional leaders saying the deal should be killed for security reasons.

CNN reported late Thursday company officials decided the deal was "not worth the trouble," and had offered to put off the U.S. port portion of the transaction.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told CNN there was no chance Congress would allow the deal to go through, and the company was accepting the inevitable.

"I think they recognize reality," Nadler said.

Ted Bilkey, chief executive officer of the Dubai Ports World, told CNN earlier in the day the company would "fully cooperate in putting into place whatever is necessary to protect the terminals," and questioned why so many Washington politicians in both parties were so alarmed about the contract it is buying from P&O.

"Security, now, in our business, is a marketing tool," Bilkey said. "The shipping companies want to know that you run a secure operation."

He called fears that officials in the United Arab Emirates would turn a blind eye to terrorists "nonsense."

U.S. President George Bush W. has threatened to veto any legislation blocking the deal, and accused his challengers in Congress of holding an Arabic company to higher standards than a British one.

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