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Judge decides not to intervene in Dubai ports deal

Written by: Staff
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NEWARK, NJ, Mar 2 (Reuters) A US judge said it was premature to order the Bush administration to disclose parts of a security probe into an Arab port operator, but said he may change his mind if a new 45-day review gives the firm a green light to manage terminals at key US ports.

''In this court's mind, there needs to be a showing of an immediate need for these documents. Without that immediacy requirement, what the plaintiff wants cannot be granted,'' US District Judge Jose Linares said yesterday.

''If the deal is approved (after the 45-day review), this court reserves its right to review its decision,'' he added.

Dubai Ports World's planned takeover of the terminals in six major US ports -- including in New Jersey and New York -- from Britain's P&O has triggered an uproar on Capitol Hill, with Republican and Democratic critics expressing concern it could make the United States more vulnerable to attack.

Lawmakers from both parties have proposed several laws seeking better port security and greater oversight of the takeover by the state-owned, United Arab Emirates-based company. Some have tried to block the deal.

President George W Bush has vowed to veto any legislation interfering with the takeover and has praised the United ab Emirates as a vital ally in his war on terrorism.

A group of US business leaders urged Congress yesterday not to threaten the deal and undermine US economic interests, saying foreign investment was a major source of US economic growth and productivity.

LEGAL CHALLENGE New Jersey sued last week on two fronts, demanding the government's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States conduct a new 45-day security investigation of the deal and share some of the initial review that approved the deal in January.

Linares ruled that since the government had now agreed to the deeper review, New Jersey's request was moot. He also said it would be premature to make the government share parts of its probe with counterterrorism experts.

MORE REUTERS DH RAI0628

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