Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Higher Hajj Committee Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz held a press conference yesterday after carrying out an inspection tour of the facilities for this year's pilgrimage, including the abattoir at Al-Mueisim, and the new headquarters of the Saudi Red Crescent Society.
At a press conference, Prince Nayef urged all Islamic and Arab governments to ensure that their pilgrims are fully enlightened on the procedures for the Hajj to enable them to perform their rituals in ease and comfort, and asked them to learn from Hajj and work to unify their ranks and cement their economic and cultural relations. He also warned against illegal overstaying, since this creates problems, and expressed approval of the restriction on Saudi citizens to perform Hajj only once every five years.
Commenting on the Kingdom's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Prince Nayef, who is also chairman of the ministerial committee concerned with this matter, remarked that Saudi Arabia is known for its free enterprise, with open markets and no restrictions on capital. The concern of the Saudi leadership, he said, is to accelerate the country's development to enable it to compete with the rest of the world, provided that such development does not run counter to its deep-rooted principles. He also stressed the importance of establishing an Arab common market to compete with international economic blocs.
On the Al-Khobar bombing and the denial of the Iranian foreign ministry of the involvement of any Iranians, Prince Nayef stated: "We are not concerned with what others say. Up to now we cannot confirm that any particular party was behind the incident; continued investigation is essential to clarify all the facts." He revealed that he planned to visit Iran in the near future, primarily to sign the security agreement that has been approved by the two governments.
On Saudi-Yemeni relations, Prince Nayef said the two countries, linked with bonds of religion and neighborhood, are working for further enhancement of their bilateral relations, one aspect of which was the border demarcation treaty signed last June.
Commenting on the assistance extended by the Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Quds Palestinian intifada, Prince Nayef said SR 130 million [U.S. $ 34.7 million] had been extended so far, with another SR 40 million [U.S. $ 10.7 million] in process. In addition, over 200,000 food hampers had been distributed.
Prince Nayef also commented on the Fund for the Development of Human Resources, and how it will play an effective role in the process of Saudization. He underlined the importance of self-sufficiency in filling job opportunities and helping the private sector establish training centers; urged the Chambers of Commerce and Industry to cooperate in this area; and stressed the recruitment of young people, urging the private sector to shoulder its responsibilities in this respect.
Commenting on the recent explosions in Riyadh, Prince Nayef confirmed that some of those involved were individuals of other nationalities, but stated that it is essential for investigations to be completed in order to know all the facts.
Prince Nayef declared that the outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is now almost over, adding that the citizens of Jizan Province will be provided with all possible facilities.
Answering a question on Iraqi media accusations that Saudi Arabia is responsible for air attacks on Iraq, Prince Nayef categorically rejected these, saying the Kingdom wishes only the best for the Iraqi people, as Arabs and Muslims. The solution of Iraq's problems, he said, is the responsibility of the Iraqi people themselves.