Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz last night chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, and expressed the hope that the U.S. vision for the future of the Middle East will materialize. Briefing the cabinet on the latest international developments, especially those in the occupied Palestinian territories, King Fahd referred to the written communication from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that spoke of support for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine, and hoped this would be implemented with immediate effect, based on international laws to which all parties have committed and confirmed by agreements signed for the purpose of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region. King Fahd went on to brief the cabinet on his talks with Egyptian President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, and also with visiting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, during which he attested to the Kingdom's firm stance towards the Palestinians' just cause until they receive their full rights. These talks, he said, concerned the sufferings of the Palestinian people due to the Israeli forces continuing to demolish homes, devastate farmland, and kill innocent people.
The cabinet then passed a number of resolutions, including: approval for the Kingdom to join the agreement to consolidate international air transport regulations, after considering a report by Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, and studying the relevant Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) resolution; amendment, in accordance with a request by Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, of certain items of the civil liberties system concerning deposition of salaries of those under criminal investigation; approval of a request by the Supreme Hajj Committee for controls on the management of the facilities offered by pilgrim transport companies specifying, for example, that drivers be whenever possible Saudi nationals; that they sign labor contracts stating rights, duties and penalties; and that a Saudi guide be allocated to each driver; authorization for the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance, or his deputy, to draft an agreement with the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria for cooperation in the area of Islamic affairs and endowments.