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Bush Backs U.A.E. Company's Administration of Six U.S. Ports
President says he will veto any congressional action to stop the transaction


February 22, 2006
Wednesday AM

President Bush said congressional and state leaders who have expressed opposition to a deal allowing a Dubai-based company to take over administration of six major U.S. seaports are sending "mixed messages" to the international community because a foreign-owned company from the United Kingdom previously had been running the ports.



Bush said, "I really don't understand why it's okay for a British company to operate our ports, but not a company from the Middle East, when our experts are convinced that port security is not an issue."

He accused critics of holding Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates to "a different standard" from the British company Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which has been running the major commercial operations at the ports of Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia.

"I'm trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to people of the world, we'll treat you fairly," Bush said. "And after careful scrutiny, we believe this deal is a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country, and at the same time, send that signal that we're willing to treat people fairly."

The president added that if Congress passes legislation that would outlaw the transaction, "I'll deal with it, with a veto."

As for the U.S. desire to reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy, the president said disruption of the oil supply and higher prices hurt the U.S. economy. He also said growing economies, such as India and China, also could try to reduce their reliance on crude oil.

"In order for these growing economies to be able to be competitive, they're going to have to learn how to use technologies that will enable them to meet the needs of their people, but also the international demands of the world for good environment," Bush said.

Asked about U.S. aid to the Palestinians under a government led by Hamas, the president said the United States gives aid grants to help the Palestinian people through nongovernmental organizations operating programs sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development. However, he said direct aid to the Palestinian Authority has ended.

"[S]o long as Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, my view is we don't have a partner in peace, and therefore shouldn't fund a government that is not a partner in peace," Bush said, adding "it's hard to have a state living side by side in peace when your stated objective is the destruction of one of the states."

Upon his arrival at the White House, the president made further comments concerning the deal with Dubai Ports World. (President Discusses Port Security)


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