The US president, George W Bush has said that he will veto any law blocking a deal giving an Arab company control of five US ports.
The decision to step into the growing row over DP World’s takeover of P&O’s ports, which runs five stevedore operations on the East Coast of the US, comes after Bill Frist, leader of the Republican Party in the Senate said that he would move a blocking law if the government did not delay the deal.
President Bush said that the government had looked at the issue carefully and that he believed the deal should go ahead. He said: “I am trying to conduct a foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, ‘We’ll treat you fairly’.”
“It would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through.”
The Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said: “Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract. The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation.”
P&O and DP World say they are confident the deal will go ahead, the latter insisting that security was “at the forefront” of its business.