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 discussed the latest developments in the region, notably their effects on security and stability. The cabinet condemned the policy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of killing, destruction, and severe punishment directed at the unarmed Palestinian people; his intransigence in this attempt to undermine the Middle East peace process; and his utilization of this policy of oppression to achieve gains in Israel's elections.
Crown Prince Abdullah then briefed the cabinet on talks he and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz had with Turkey's Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, who is touring the region in an effort to avert war. Expressing extreme concern over developments in Iraq, the cabinet stressed the Kingdom's commitment to Iraq's unity, and its territorial integrity as part of the Arab and Muslim world. The cabinet affirmed that if a war takes place, it will be to the detriment of all, the perpetrators as well as the target; and emphasized that opportunity should be made available for dialogue even if the United Nations Security Council issues a resolution on a military option, and noted that what the Arabs demand is a chance for diplomatic action to save the region and the world from catastrophe.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet commented on the government's attention to and concern for heritage and culture through the annual National Festival at Jenadriyah whose 18th session opened last Wednesday. The Crown Prince expressed his appreciation for the great efforts exerted by all officials of the various sectors participating in the Festival, which each year achieves distinguished success. He praised this year's theme 'This is Islam', which deals with important topics on Islam such as its tolerance, and refutes the malicious fabrications directed at Islam and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He stressed that Islam is a religion of moderation, suited to all times and all places, since it cares for human beings, promotes their interests and puts down the seeds of love and tolerance among societies.
The cabinet then passed a number of resolutions, including authorization for the Minister of Interior or his deputy to discuss a draft agreement on security cooperation with the Russian Federation; authorization for the Minister of Foreign Affairs or his deputy to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding and coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and authorization for the General President of Youth Welfare or his deputy to sign a draft agreement on cooperation in the field of youth and sports with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.