U.S. Senator Questions Dubai Deal For U.S. Ports

A U.S. senator expressed concern Feb. 13 about a takeover deal giving a Dubai company control of operations at six U.S. ports, including New York. Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told Fox News Channel he had strong reservations about the deal in which the British port and ferries group Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company approved a takeover bid by DP World of Dubai.

"Should we be outsourcing our own security?" Schumer said. "We have to have hands-on control of things. And to have United Arab Emirates -- I mean, they are a country that's allied with the U.S., but at the same time a whole bunch of the (September 11) hijackers came from the United Arab Emirates."

The deal, which is to be finalized on March 2 according to P and O, creates the second biggest global ports and container group in terms of traffic, on a par with Singapore's state-linked PSA International and the Danish group APM Terminals. P and O valued the takeover at around 5.7 billion euros (US$ 6.8 billions).

Schumer said he had "real doubts" about the deal that would give DP World operations of the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. "I think there ought to be a full and public review before this company is allowed to control security up and down the East Coast," he said. "The issue is not the head of the company. I'm sure he's been checked out. But how good is their security? How good do they check on their employees? Could people infiltrate this company a lot more easily than they could infiltrate an American company?"

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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