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Bush on UAE ports deal: ``People don't need to worry about security''

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After a cabinet meeting this morning, President Bush today tried again to quiet the storm over whether letting an United Arab Emirates company manage six U.S. ports.

And so people don't need to worry about security. This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release February 23, 2006

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AFTER MEETING WITH CABINET

The Cabinet Room

9:16 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. My Cabinet just met to
get a report from Fran Townsend about the lessons learned from Hurricane
Katrina. On September the 6th, I asked Fran to conduct a thorough
review of the federal response to Katrina and to make recommendations
about how we can better respond in the future. I wasn't satisfied with
the federal response. Fran and her team produced a lessons learned
document, and she just briefed the Cabinet about lessons learned.

I reminded our Cabinet that hurricane season begins in June and
that we will be tracking the implementations of the recommendations in
this report. I want to thank her for her report. It's a good work. We
will learn from the lessons of the past to better protect the American
people.

We have made a strong commitment to people in the Gulf Coast and we
will honor that commitment, as well. The report helps us anticipate how
to better respond to future disasters. In the meantime, our commitment
to rebuild and help rebuild Mississippi and Louisiana is ongoing and
robust.

I'll be glad to answer some questions. Terry. Two questions.
You're the first questioner.

Q Mr. President, dozens of Sunni mosques have been attacked and
scores of people have been killed after the bombing of the Golden
Mosque. How serious is the danger of a civil war in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, the people of the United States
strongly condemn the destruction of the Golden Mosque. We believe in
freedom to worship. And I understand the consternation and concern of
Iraqi Shias when they see this most holy site wantonly destroyed.

I appreciate very much the leaders from all aspects of Iraqi
society that have stood up and urged for there to be calm. They
recognize two things -- one, the Iraqi people want to live in a
democracy. After all, 11 million people voted in the last election. In
other words, given a choice of whether or not they want democracy or a
different form of government, millions of people showed up to vote,
making a clear statement to the Iraqi authorities, as well as to the
people of the world they want democracy.

Secondly, the voices of reason want all aspects of Iraqi life --
understand that this bombing is intended to create civil strife, that
the act was a evil act. The destruction of a holy site is a political
act intending to create strife. And so I'm pleased with the voices of
reason that have spoken out. And we will continue to work with those
voices of reason to enable Iraq to continue on the path of a democracy
that unites people and doesn't divide them.

Finally, I do want to assure the Iraqi people that the U.S.
government is serious in our commitment in helping to rebuild that holy
site. We understand its importance to Iraqi society and we want to
stand side-by-side with the government in making sure that beautiful
dome is restored.

Caren.

Q Sir, do you wish you had known earlier about the Dubai Ports
deal and were you surprised by the controversy over it?

THE PRESIDENT: The more people learn about the transaction that
has been scrutinized and approved by my government, the more they'll be
comforted that our ports will be secure. Port security in the United
States will be run by Customs -- U.S. Customs -- and the United States
Coast Guard. The management of some ports, which, heretofore, has been
managed by a foreign company will be managed by another company from a
foreign land. And so people don't need to worry about security. This
deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the
United States of America.

What I find interesting is that it's okay for a British company to
manage some ports, but not okay for a company from a country that is
also a valuable ally in the war on terror. The UAE has been a valuable
partner in fighting the war on terror. A lot of goods are shipped from
ports to the United States managed by this company.

And again, I repeat to the American people, this wouldn't be going
forward if we weren't certain that our ports would be secure. But I
also want to remind folks that it's really important we not send mixed
messages to friends and allies around the world as we combine -- put
together a coalition to fight this war on terror.

And so we'll continue to talk to people in Congress and explain
clearly why the decision was made. Many of those doing the explanations
are around this table, and I want to thank them for bringing a sense of
calm to this issue, as people understand the logic of the decision.

Thank you all.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 23, 2006 9:31 AM.

Hindsight from McCLELLAN on Ports Uproar was the previous entry in this blog.

Ports flap: White House issues ``fact sheets'' on U.S.-UAE relations and ``CFIUS'' process is the next entry in this blog.

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