Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz chaired the weekly Cabinet session in Riyadh yesterday. At the beginning of the session, King Abdullah briefed the Cabinet on his consultations with international leaders. He expressed his satisfaction with the reasonable understanding concerning Iraq as well as the need to complete the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri.
In a statement following the session, Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Madani said that the Cabinet praised Syria’s favorable response to the UN investigation into Hariri’s death.
On Iraq, the Cabinet anticipates that the upcoming parliamentary elections will result in a parliament that is representative of all groups and that upholds the independent will of the Iraqi people.
The Cabinet emphasized the importance of the extraordinary Islamic summit that will take place in Makkah in December, and noted King Abdullah’s call that the summit take the opportunity to foster unity, Madani added.
The Cabinet also hoped that the official visit of South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hai Chan today will enhance cooperation between the Saudi Arabia and South Korea, particularly in the fields of energy, technology, economic cooperation and trade.
Turning to domestic matters, the Cabinet issued a number of decisions. It approved a bill for a comprehensive national system to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which bans creating, producing, storing, using or destroying chemical weapons. Local inspection teams will inspect any suspicious sites, and anyone convicted of the above offenses faces a minimum fine of SR 500,000 [$133,337] but no more than SR one million [$266,674], a minimum five-year prison sentence not to exceed 20 years, or a combination of the two punishments along with the confiscation of the chemical weapon in question.
The Cabinet also authorized the Chief Civil Aviation Authority to sign a memorandum of understanding; approved the final accounts for the Supreme Commission for Tourism for 2003-2004; authorized the Minister of Islamic Affairs or his deputy to sign a memorandum of understanding with Pakistan on Islamic affairs and endowments; and passed regulations concerning domestic pilgrims, including a requirement that local Hajj companies must hire Saudis for administrative and contract work. The Cabinet also approved a number of appointments, including Sultan bin Jamal Shawly as undersecretary for Mineral Resources at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Dr Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Sulaiman as undersecretary for Industry Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Abdulaziz bin Saad Al-Ghamdi as Director General of the State Properties Department of the Ministry of Finance.