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Arab Company Agrees to Delay Port Takeover

BY Admin  February 24, 2006 at 1:30 PM EDT

The concession, made late Thursday, was welcomed by lawmakers but did not temper calls from critics to closely examine the deal’s risks.

The United Arab Emirates company Dubai Ports World said it would go ahead with the $6.85 billion acquisition of the British port operator P&O, but would make special arrangements for the U.S. ports while it goes over security concerns, Reuters reported.

American and British executives would remain temporarily in charge of the company’s seaport operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

“We believe it would be helpful to have some additional time to brief Congress about the facts and about the safeguards that are in place,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters. “We believe once Congress has a better understanding of the facts and the safeguards that are in place that they will be more comfortable with the transaction moving forward.”

When asked how long the delay would last, McClellan said, “It’s not up to us. It’s up to the company to make that decision.”

Lawmakers from the affected areas still pressed for a thorough review of the transaction.

“A simple cooling-off period will not allay our concerns,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the AP reported.

Rep. Vito Fosella, R-N.Y., said the administration should more fully explain why it thought the transfer would be safe.

President Bush has said he would veto any legislation either delaying or stopping the port deal.

The administration noted that the United Arab Emirates donated $100 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina weeks before Dubai Ports sought approval for its business deal, but said there was no connection between the money and the pending deal, according to the AP.