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, which was briefed by Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, who is also Chairman of the Higher Pilgrimage Committee, on the preparations made by the various government authorities and other bodies concerned with pilgrim services for the optimal implementation of the plan for this year's Hajj. The Crown Prince, in the name of the Kingdom's government and its people, formally welcomed all pilgrims who are coming to the Holy Sites to perform the Hajj, praying to God Almighty to help them perform the rituals to the best of their ability. He urged all officials to double their efforts and mobilize all material and human capabilities to ensure greater comfort and ease for the pilgrims, and referred to the great projects that the government has carried out at the Holy Sites. Crown Prince Abdullah also urged the pilgrims to obey God's instructions and avoid any disturbance that might affect their performance of the rituals.
The cabinet was then briefed on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories, notably the continued brutal and aggressive actions by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian people, their land, their institutions and their holy places. The cabinet stressed the need to adopt a unified international stance in order to stop this aggression against unarmed people.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including endorsement of the memorandum of understanding for cooperation with the Republic of Yemen, signed in Jeddah on June 15, 2002; and authorization for the Minister of Communications or his deputy to discuss a draft agreement with the Republic of Italy in the area of maritime transportation. In addition, the cabinet endorsed the establishment by farmers of cooperative societies for marketing agricultural products; recommended that they be supported through the grant or lease of plots of land for the construction of storage and distribution centers; ordered the setting up of a joint committee of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Agricultural bank to follow up their activities, facilitate their missions and resolve their problems; and instructed the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Information to cooperate in launching an awareness program to explain to farmers the role of cooperative societies in agricultural marketing.