Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, a meeting that coincided with Saudi Arabia's National Day marking the anniversary of the founding of the modern Kingdom. At the outset of the meeting, Crown Prince Abdullah described National Day as an important occasion on which the Kingdom's citizens commemorate the efforts of its founder King Abdulaziz Al Saud and his companions to unify the various parts of the nation, and on which they reflect on the continuation of its great accomplishments, within full commitment to the Islamic faith and true Arab and Muslim values. The Crown Prince commented that the country, as it celebrates this Monday, September 23, is, with the help of God Almighty and under the directions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, advancing along the same path set up by its founder, who aimed to achieve security, stability and prosperity for the people while adhering to Islamic principles.
Crown Prince Abdullah stressed the importance of the roles of both citizens and government officials in the service of their beloved country, with each fulfilling his duties in order to safeguard the accomplishments of the past on the one hand, and on the other, to work towards achieving greater prosperity and progress for our nation.
The Crown Prince then briefed the cabinet on the telephone call he had received from Palestinian President Yasser Arafat concerning the serious deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories, and the current brutal siege and aggression by Israel's occupation forces. He reiterated the Kingdom's denunciation and condemnation of those aggressive acts; noted that this escalation of events by Israel once more proves its lack of interest in peace; confirmed Saudi Arabia's adamant support for the Palestinian people; and urged the Arab countries to take a unified position against the continuing aggression that the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority are facing. The Crown Prince also briefed the cabinet on the telephone call he had received from U.S. Vice-President Richard Cheney on the overall situation in the region, and appealed to the international community for prompt and decisive intervention to stop Israel's flagrant aggression and put pressure on Israel to sit down at the negotiation table to work for peace, which is the wish of all.
Turning to domestic matters, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including authorization for the National Bank of Bahrain and the National Bank of Kuwait to open a branch in the city of Riyadh and the city of Jeddah respectively, in accordance with Saudi banking regulations; and authorization for the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to participate as a founding member in the Islamic Financial Services Council, and for its governor or his deputy to sign SAMA's accession to that council.
In addition, upon recommendations from the Ministry of Agriculture on the issue of poultry farming, the cabinet decreed tighter penalties in cases of violators who use antibiotics in fodder; added the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to those government authorities assigned to control the poultry industry; barred the sale, re-sale, or use in restaurants, of eggs or poultry originating from unlicensed farms; increased the number of spot inspection visits to poultry farms, poultry processing plants, and points of sale of poultry meat; stopped the issuance of devices for plucking chickens pending new arrangements to establish modern abattoirs; and facilitated laboratory research on aspects such as antibiotic inspections and standards for feeding chicks.