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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Allows Dubai Port Review

WASHINGTON -- The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush said Sunday that it would grant a request by Dubai Ports World for an additional 45-day review of its contested takeover of terminal operations at six major U.S. ports.

Dubai Ports had said it was seeking further review in order to allay U.S. lawmakers' national security concerns about handing management of the port terminals to a company owned by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

"Upon receipt of the new notification, CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] will promptly initiate the review process and fulfill DPW's request for a full investigation," the agency said in a statement.

The request, made jointly with the U.S. unit of British company P&O, gives the Bush administration time to convince members of the U.S. Congress not to block the deal.

"We are confident the further review by CFIUS will confirm that DP World's acquisition of P&O's U.S. operations does not pose any threat to America's safety and security," Ted Bilkey, chief operating officer of Dubai Ports, said in a statement.

Bush has strongly backed the ports deal and threatened to veto any legislation blocking it.

The White House said it was pleased the company had made the additional overture to the U.S. Congress, but added that the purchase had already been closely scrutinized for security concerns.

"We believe, however, the additional time and investigation at the request of the company will provide Congress with a better understanding of the facts, and that Congress will be comfortable with the transaction moving forward once it does," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement.

Many lawmakers fear the Dubai-based port operator could allow militants to attack the United States. They also were outraged that CFIUS approved the deal giving the state-owned company control of terminals at the six ports, including New York, without conducting the additional 45-day review to thoroughly examine potential national security concerns.

Dubai Ports said last week it would proceed with its $6.85 billion takeover of P&O on March 2 -- making it the world's third-largest port operator -- but not immediately assume management of the U.S. port terminals.

The White House says that the United Arab Emirates is a staunch ally in the U.S. war on terrorism and has worked to close the loopholes that allowed al-Qaida operatives to use it as a financial and logistical hub before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The companies' decision to ask for an extended review followed intense consultation with congressional leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, had recommended the companies voluntarily seek an extended review.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he met with Bilkey this weekend to discuss the deal and was given a copy of the agreement between Dubai Ports and P&O Ports North America asking for the 45-day review.

Warner said Dubai Ports already operates in more than 30 countries.

Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and leading critic of the deal, said the request for a 45-day investigation "is a significant step forward, but the devil is in the details."