WASHINGTON – The White House is quietly pushing a Dubai company to “significantly restructure” and partner up with a U.S. outfit to keep the port deal from sinking, sources told the New York Daily News on Friday.

“It’s in the hands of the company now. … They’re going to have to significantly restructure,” said a Republican source familiar with White House expectations.

A revamped deal to allow Dubai Ports World to take over six major U.S. ports – including Manhattan’s cruise ship terminal and the Newark, N.J., container depot – would have to be something along the lines of the Marine One contract.

British- and Italian-owned AgustaWestland had to take on Maryland-based Lockheed Martin to win the contract to build the president’s helicopter last year.

“A lot of people are talking about this, a subsidiary or a deal like that,” a congressional source confirmed.

One snag to such a deal may be that sources say the U.S. company best equipped to partner with DP World is Halliburton, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

After undergoing so much scrutiny for its no-bid Iraq contract and the handling of some of its duties there, Halliburton may not be able to help DP World land the deal, a source admitted.

According to the source close to the White House, the Bush administration believes that in addition to clearing an extended 45-day review, DP World will have to come up with a deal that will pass muster with Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

King is seen as a key lawmaker because he broke with the White House over the Dubai deal despite his strong relationship with President Bush and top aides like Karl Rove.

“Speaking for myself, in addition to a rigorous investigation, it’s important to look at having an American company administer the contract, and DPW would have to be totally separated out from the U.S. company in terms of access to information that the company would have or could acquire,” King told the Daily News.

“Even then, the administration would have a tough time selling it, but that is a place to work from,” King added.

White House spokesman Ken Lisaius referred all calls to DP World. A spokesman from DP World had no immediate comment.



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