Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Port Deal Will Succeed Despite US Opposition

The head of a Dubai company facing a political firestorm over its multi-billion dollar bid to take over the operations of six major American ports voiced optimism Sunday the deal would succeed.

In an interview with CNN television, Dubai Ports World chief executive officer Muhammad Sharaf said: “As far as we’re concerned the deal is going to go through.” After initially approving the $6.8 billion deal, the administration of President George W. Bush has launched a fresh review of the transaction amid fierce political opposition from within the government’s own ranks motivated by Islamphopia and Jewish groups.

The deal, in which DP World would take over Britain’s Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Navigation Co. which currently runs the six ports, has provoked outcries that it would endanger US security.

Republican representative Duncan Hunter, the chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, is seeking to sink the takeover.

He told the ABC News “This Week” program on Sunday that government-owned DP World cannot be trusted to run US ports in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia.

Numerous US lawmakers have lined up in opposition, citing the United Arab Emirates recognition of the Afghan Taleban government and concerns that it was home to two of the September 11, 2001 hijackers.

Links between the two nations have been strong for years; in 2000 Dubai cinched a multi-billion dollar deal to buy 80 high-tech F-16 fighter jets from the US.

Although some lawmakers, including Hunter, are moving to author legislation that would torpedo the deal, Bush has said he would veto such legislation.
Dubai rulers launched a massive public relation campaing in US, starting live coverage from Dubai by CNN anchorman Wolf Blitz. The Dubai port uses high technology to inspect all the cargo.


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