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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 11:19 GMT
US Coast Guard warned about ports
Tankers about to dock at the port of Philadelphia
Dubai Ports hopes to take control of six major US ports
The US Coast Guard warned there were gaps in intelligence over the security risk of an Arab firm bidding to run six major US ports, the Senate has heard.

Senators opposed to the deal seized on the Coast Guard document to accuse the Bush administration of rushing to approve the takeover by Dubai Ports.

The government says it has addressed the concerns and the Coast Guard said the document was taken out of context.

A new opinion poll has shown 70% of Americans surveyed oppose the deal.

Dubai Ports (DPW) of the United Arab Emirates aims to take over the running of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia from British-based P&O in a $6.8bn (3.9bn) deal.

The administration gave the deal the green light but many lawmakers believe it increases the risk of terrorism.

US PORTS OWNED BY P&O
Freight being unloaded at the port of Philadelphia
New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia

President George W Bush has agreed to a new 45-day inquiry into the matter, following the outcry from legislators.

But he has threatened to veto any legislation they might bring to try to block the deal.

At a Congressional hearing on Monday, Senator Susan Collins released an unclassified section of the Coast Guard document on the takeover.

The excerpt read: "There are many intelligence gaps concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment."

Ms Collins said the document suggested a "rush to judgment" by the administration.

"I believe the 45-day investigation should have been triggered by the transaction in the first place," she said.

The Coast Guard later released a statement saying: "The excerpts made public earlier today, when taken out of context, do not reflect the full, classified analysis performed by the Coast Guard."

Approval rating

The department of homeland security said again on Monday that it had asked for and received security assurances from DPW.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Security at major ports is a legitimate concern and any deal to manage them by a foreign company should be subject to scrutiny
Scott W, USA

DPW has agreed to the new 45-day review and is still determined to proceed with the acquisition.

"We consider our company to be a friend of the United States," Michael Moore, a company executive told BBC Five Live.

In a new opinion poll for CBS News, only 21% of more than 1,000 respondents said they agreed the deal should go ahead, with 70% opposed.

Meanwhile, New Jersey officials are taking legal action to try and block the deal, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is seeking to annul P&O's 30-year operating licence, claiming it failed to seek permission for the transfer of ownership.


SEE ALSO:
Review agreed in P&O takeover bid
27 Feb 06 |  Americas
Bush threatens veto in ports row
22 Feb 06 |  Americas
US lawmakers criticise ports deal
21 Feb 06 |  Americas


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