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DoD to Join Re-review of Ports Issue, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2006 – The Defense Department will participate in a re-review of a slated acquisition of shipping terminal operations at six major U.S. ports by a United Arab Emirates-owned firm, a senior Pentagon official said here today.

It's too early to say, DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters, which department representatives would work with the re-review that's to be conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. DoD elements were part of the first review also.

Dubai Ports World, owned by the United Arab Emirates government, bought British-owned ports operator Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which managed port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

CFIUS, a U.S. Treasury-led panel that inspects sales of firms that could affect national security, had approved the transaction. But concerns over possible security ramifications caused some Capitol Hill legislators to ask for more time to examine the issue.

The new review "will go through the CFIUS process again," Whitman said.

On Feb. 26 Dubai Ports World requested an extended U.S. government review of the transaction, which the White House accepted. The added review will include a 45-day investigation period.

Last week, Virginia Sen. John W. Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and other senior U.S. legislators and officials worked to address concerns that an Arab-owned company would manage terminal operations at key U.S. ports.

The United Arab Emirates is a loyal ally of the United States, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said at a Feb. 23 SASC hearing convened to discuss the matter.

"They are a friend and ally of the United States, and they do stand side by side with us in this war on terror," England said.

The deputy secretary also said the Defense Department was among several U.S. government agencies, including the departments of State and Homeland Security, which took part in an in-depth and comprehensive review of the ports issue.

"During this review process there were no issues raised by any agency within DoD, including our U.S. Transportation Command, and that is significant because that was a special review measure we'd put in place to ensure that any military transportation security issue would be identified," England said at the hearing.

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