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Ports in a storm.

How secure are U.S. seaports? Should an Arab country--or any foreign country--be allowed to operate them? In January, a deal between P&O, a British-owned company, and Dubai Ports World (DP World) was approved by the federal government. DP World planned to buy P&O's rights to manage six U.S. seaports. President George W. Bush supported the deal. However, when the U.S. Congress got wind of it, a storm of protest followed.

DP World is owned and operated by the government of Dubai, an independent Arab state that is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Although the UAE is a U.S. ally, Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate objected to the deal. Many worry that foreign management of key U.S. ports poses a threat to national security.

But President Bush expressed concern that rejecting DP World's bid would send the wrong message to "friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East."

The six U.S. ports in the deal are not the only ones under foreign management. China and Singapore, for instance, operate several U.S. ports. However, regardless of who runs the ports, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs Service remain responsible for security.

The debate cooled after DP World announced that it would transfer or sell its port-operation rights to U.S. companies. But in these wary times, discussion is likely to continue over who should control U.S. ports.
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Title Annotation:INTERNATIONAL
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 10, 2006
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