According to reports, Dubai's royal family sent a delegation to the U.S. today to meet officials such as Senator Hillary Clinton to allay concerns about the emirate's purchase of six U.S. ports as part of its buyout of Peninsula & Oriental Steam Navigation Co.
Sultan bin Sulayem, chairman of the state-owned DP World, is heading the team will discuss Dubai's management of P&O operations in the U.S., which include the ports of New York and Baltimore, official said.
Democratic Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hillary Clinton of New York are seeking to prohibit companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from buying U.S. port operations. A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is calling for hearings on DP World's $6.8 billion purchase of London-based P&O that would give a company owned by Dubai's ruling Maktoum family, control over some operations at six U.S. ports.
P&O's biggest operations in the U.S. are at the Port of Newark, where it has 30-year lease from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to operate the 180-acre terminal, which can handle about 1 million containers a year.
The lease is shared by A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, the largest container-shipping company. P&O also has a 50 percent stake in the Port of Miami Terminal Operating Company, which handles about 500,000 containers a year at the port in Florida.
The International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency responsible for maritime safety, in July 2004 implemented the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code, which is designed to increase security at ports.
The Persian Gulf state, a federation of seven family-ruled sheikhdoms, is a key ally of the U.S. government in the region. Docking facilities at Jebel Ali port, the largest in the Persian Gulf and that's run by DP World, are used regularly by the U.S. navy, the spokesman said.
President George W. Bush's administration last month named Dave Sanborn, director of operations for DP World in Europe and Latin America, as U.S. Maritime Administrator. Sanborn is expected to take up his post later this year.
The Maritime Administration is responsible for ensuring the marine infrastructure meets the economic and security needs of the U.S., according to its Web site.