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, and briefed the Cabinet on talks concerning international developments held by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz and himself with a number of world leaders and envoys. These included talks with visiting Prime Minister of Iraq Dr Iyad Allawi concerning the situation in Iraq and the Kingdom's interest in Iraq's unity, sovereignty, stability, security, reconstruction and development; talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; and a telephone call which Crown Prince Abdullah received from U.S. President George W. Bush on the regional situation, bilateral relations, and joint efforts to combat terrorism.
On the situation in the Middle East, the Cabinet commented on the consequences of any attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque that might be committed by Israeli extremists, saying such an attack would have an immense negative impact on Muslim sentiment in particular and on the world as a whole, since the Mosque has a special status in the hearts of all Muslims. The Kingdom is following with great concern the developments in Palestine, with Israel's continuing escalation against the Palestinian people and its persistent policies aimed at changing the situation on the ground, including the plan to set up a Jewish settlement accommodating 55,000 persons to the east of occupied East Jerusalem [Al-Quds], in addition to the annexation of a number of Palestinian villages by encircling them inside Israel’s wall of segregation. Saudi Arabia strongly condemns all these Israeli practices and policies, calling on the international community in general and the International Quartet Committee in particular to immediately interfere to stop Israel’s aggressive policies and to halt the escalation of matters that is complicating the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Referring to a message he had received from President of Sudan Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, Crown Prince Abdullah emphasized the need to end the humanitarian tragedy in Darfur, support the efforts of the Sudanese government and the African Union, and refrain from threatening rhetoric that can only complicate matters.
Turning to domestic issues, the Cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including approval of general agreements for cooperation with both Nigeria and Sri Lanka; and authorization for the Minister of Finance or his deputy to sign a draft agreement with the Republic of Greece on avoidance of duplication of taxation on income generated from international air services.