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 congratulated the Muslim world on the start of the new Hijrah year [on February 22, 2004], expressing the wish that 1425 will see the spread of security, justice, stability and peaceful coexistence for all. The Crown Prince then briefed the Cabinet on the Saudi leadership’s recent consultations with leaders and envoys of brotherly and friendly countries, notably the talks held by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz and himself with visiting President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Salih.
On the Palestinian issue, the Cabinet discussed the latest developments in the occupied Palestinian territories including Israel’s continued aggression against the land and people of Palestine, while the world has been anticipating the achievement of a just and peaceful settlement of the dispute. The Cabinet again urged the international community to take a serious and firm stance to prevent Israel from carrying out its objectives of continually aborting any move towards the achievement of peace in the region, and affirmed that the Kingdom is taking note, with great concern, of the issue of the wall of segregation that Israel is setting up in the West Bank. The Cabinet observed that the International Court of Justice has started discussion of this issue in accordance with the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly at its extraordinary session on September 8, 2003 which requested that the Court demonstrate urgently its legal opinion on the consequences of the wall. In this regard, the Kingdom, having officially submitted its legal memorandum on January 27, today presented a statement at the Court and participated in its proceedings.
The Cabinet then praised the agreement between India and Pakistan on a ‘roadmap’ to settle all outstanding issues between the two countries, including the vital issue of Jammu and Kashmir, and thereby achieve a lasting peace; and expressed the hope that the two neighboring countries will crown their agreement with an end to the dispute.
Turning to domestic issues, the Cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including ratification of the tourism cooperation agreement signed with the Republic of Yemen in Sanaa on July 6, 2003 during the 15th session of the Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council; approval of the recommendation from the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) to transfer the Pensions Authority to a private organization of a legal character, with the current regulations and board of directors maintained pending the formation of a new board and the enactment, within no later than three months, of new regulations; and endorsement of the re-formation of the Board of Directors of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) as follows:
• The Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General as Chairman
• The Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs as Deputy Chairman
• The Ministers of: Interior; Health; Commerce and Industry; Agriculture; Water and Electricity; Finance; and Economy and Planning
• The Director of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)
• The Director-General of the Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO)
• The President of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry
• An expert in the affairs of food and drugs.