February 26, 2006
Dubai Expected to Ask for Review of Port Deal
By DAVID E. SANGER
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 — After two days of behind-the-scenes negotiations with the Bush administration and Congress, the Dubai company seeking to manage terminals at six American ports is expected to announce by Monday a deal inviting the government to conduct a broad new review of security concerns, senior administration officials and a company adviser say.
If an agreement is completed, the state-owned company, Dubai Ports World, will “voluntarily” ask the Bush administration to pursue the lengthier, deeper investigation that Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been demanding since controversy over the transaction erupted at the beginning of the week.
The White House plans to portray the action as the company’s own decision, giving administration officials a face-saving way of backing away from President Bush’s repeated declarations in recent days that there is no security risk in having the port terminals operated by a company controlled by the emir of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates.
The people who discussed the negotiations, two senior administration officials and the company adviser, spoke on the condition of anonymity because final details had not been worked out. Dubai Ports lawyers and lobbyists spent Friday and Saturday talking with Congressional leaders, including the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee.
The goal was to try to delay, if not circumvent, a collision with Republican leaders who have been threatening to support some form of Congressional action next week, possibly including a bill to block the company from taking over.