Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly session of the Council of Ministers, which reviewed reports on the regional situation, in particular the Iraqi crisis. The Crown Prince, referring to the Kingdom's continued efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, reiterated its concern to save Iraq from war, preserve the safety of the Iraqi people, and maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq. He urged all concerned to cooperate in finding a peaceful solution in order to safeguard the security and safety of the entire region, and the cabinet expressed the hope that the Iraqi government will fully cooperate with the international inspectors to find a peaceful solution that foils any resort to war.
The cabinet then reviewed the tragic situation of the Palestinian people as a result of Israel's continuing aggression, which has destroyed the people and their property, and emphasized the need to put an end to this tragedy and force Israel to comply with and implement the UN resolutions and bilateral agreements, including the establishment of an independent and free Palestinian State with Al-Quds [East Jerusalem] as its capital.
With the Hajj season drawing near, Crown Prince Abdullah, in the name of the government and people of Saudi Arabia, welcomed the pilgrims who have come to the Kingdom to perform their Hajj rituals, wishing them every success as they converge from all over the world to perform this great pillar of Islam. The Crown Prince expressed satisfaction at the preparations made and efforts exerted in the service of the pilgrims by all authorities and sectors, public and private; and urged all officials to redouble their efforts in order to provide the best services for the holy places and the guests of God. The Crown Prince indicated that the Kingdom anticipates that all pilgrims will cooperate in complying with the regulations, instructions and directives issued by the various authorities concerned with Hajj affairs, since all of these aim at their safety, ease and comfort.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including endorsement of an amendment of Article (26) of the Statute of the National Company for Cooperative Insurance (NCCI) concerning the formation of its General Assembly; approval of drafts of memoranda of understanding on transportation with the Arab Republic of Syria and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; and authorization for the implementation of the resolution taken at the 22nd Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Muscat, Oman, in December 2001 regarding a unified system for combating money laundering, to be pursued for three years before reassessment.
The cabinet also endorsed a recommendation that the General Directorate for Prisons be a financially and administratively independent authority although still part of the Ministry of Interior under the direct supervision of the Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs; and that it shall be in charge of all affairs of incarceration, carrying out custody and imprisonment orders and implementing programs for the rehabilitation of inmates. A special Council for Prison Affairs is to be formed, with members from the private as well as the public sector, in order to provide the new prison authority with the best cadre to ensure better performance and services at the Kingdom's prisons. The Ministry of Interior was assigned to draw up a timetable in coordination with the Ministry of Finance and National Economy and the Ministry of Planning for enforcing these new improvements.