Bush tries to calm uproar over ports row

President George Bush today sought to calm an uproar over an Arab company taking over operations at six major American ports, saying: “People don’t need to worry about security.”

Under a secretive agreement with the administration, a company in the United Arab Emirates promised to co-operate with US investigations as a condition of its takeover of operations at the ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The US government chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

“The more people learn about the transaction,” Bush said.

“The more they’ll be comforted that the ports will be secure.”

He spoke to reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting.

Bush said he was struck by the fact that people were not concerned about port security when a British company was running the port operation, but they felt differently about an Arab company at the helm. He said the United Arab Emirates was a valuable partner in the war in terror.

He said his administration would continue talks with members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, who have rebelled against the takeover.

He said the briefings were “bringing a sense of calm to this issue”.

“This wouldn’t be going forward if we weren’t certain our ports would be secure,” the president said.

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