U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has held talks in the United Arab Emirates about a controversial port deal involving a Dubai firm. She met Thursday with the UAE's vice president and prime minister, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid, and other officials.
A State Department official confirmed they discussed a deal that would allow Dubai Ports World to take over shipping operations at six key U.S. ports. The official did not provide further details. Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about ensuring security at the ports if the deal goes through. A State Department statement said Rice and the UAE officials also discussed ways to improve cooperation in the war against terrorism.
Earlier Thursday, Rice made an unannounced visit to Beirut, and met with Lebanon's newly elected prime minister, Fuad Saniora, and other figures. She stressed U.S. support for the country as it tries to emerge from years of Syrian dominance. She did not meet with the country's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, who anti-Syrian leaders are trying to oust.
Her Middle East tour was also aimed at convincing Arab governments to take a tough stance against a Hamas-led Palestinian government.