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Archive for Sunday, February 12, 2006

Company poised to oversee U.S. ports

Country involved in sale has 9-11 ties

February 12, 2006

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— A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.

The Bush administration considers the UAE an important ally in the fight against terrorism since the suicide hijackings and is not objecting to Dubai Ports World's purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

The $6.8 billion sale is expected to be approved Monday. The British company is the fourth-largest ports company in the world, and its sale would affect commercial U.S. port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

DP World said it won approval from a secretive U.S. government panel that considers security risks of foreign companies buying or investing in American industry.

The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States "thoroughly reviewed the potential transaction and concluded they had no objection," the company said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The committee, which could have recommended that President Bush block the purchase, includes representatives from the departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Commerce, State and Homeland Security.

The State Department describes the UAE as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism. But the UAE, a loose federation of seven emirates on the Saudi peninsula, was an important operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks against New York and Washington, the FBI concluded.

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