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Bill Clinton on Arab Payroll

WWW- Hillary Clinton, a leading opponent of DP World’s takeover of some US port operations, was this week forced to admit that she did not know her husband had advised Dubai leaders on how to handle the growing dispute.

But former President Bill Clinton’s ties to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates should not have come as a surprise to his New York senator wife.

Mrs Clinton’s own senatorial financial disclosure forms reveal that her husband earned $450,000 giving speeches in Dubai in 2002.

Officials from the UAE also donated between $500,000 and $1m to fund Mr Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas.

It was part of an effort by the emirates, said a person close to UAE officials, to forge a close relationship with a former US president who is influential and highly regarded in the region.

Mr Clinton’s admiration for the UAE was last on display in November, when he made his fourth visit to the American University in Dubai and met students participating in the Clinton scholarship programme.

The UAE has also contributed $100m to Hurricane Katrina relief funds – which Mr Clinton had a leading role in raising.

Mrs Clinton’s tough stance that the deal represented an “unacceptable risk” to national security has caused UAE officials some consternation.

Regarded as the leading Democratic candidate for the 2008 presidential elections, she has used the deal – which polls show is disliked by most Americans – and the anti-Arab sentiment it sparked to attack the Bush administration on national security, an issue that has been seen as a weak point for Democrats.

Although Mrs Clinton has been careful not to criticise the UAE directly, her stance has put her in the same camp as legislators who openly accuse Dubai of helping to finance the September 11 terrorist attacks and deem the UAE untrustworthy.

Privately, some Democrats see the revelations about his ties to the UAE as a classic Clinton dilemma. Mrs Clinton told the New York Post on Thursday that she did not know her husband had been contacted by Dubai officials two weeks ago and offered them advice on the deal. Although both Hillary and Bill Clinton say he stands behind her on the issue and there is no direct conflict, his relationship to the UAE has complicated her political stance on the transaction.

Meanwhile, the UAE has sought to quell the backlash against the takeover by hiring some Clinton officials – and Republicans – to lobby on Dubai’s behalf.

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