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 the latest international developments, notably consultations on the Middle East peace plan and efforts to end Israel's aggression against the Palestinian people, leadership and legal institutions. The cabinet, stressing the importance of putting an end to this aggression in order to pave the way for a Palestinian state, has been following intently the extensive efforts exerted by the Arab Peace Initiative Committee that was set up by the Beirut Summit, including the Committee's meetings with U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell. The cabinet took note of the U.S. President’s avowal that his country is committed to the Middle East peace process, and welcomed his statements regarding peace in the Middle East, particularly his confirmation that peace efforts regarding the Palestinian issue are developing on three equal tracks: security, economic and political.
Crown Prince Abdullah then discussed with the cabinet the role the private sector can play in investment, and urged businessmen and private companies to exert greater efforts in prioritizing jobs for Saudi nationals, training Saudi youths, and taking advantage of financial support from the Human Resources Fund. He observed that this responsibility emanates from faith, which entails that businessmen serve their religion and country in return for the services they receive from their nation.
Turning to domestic matters, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including:
• authorization for the Minister of Foreign Affairs or his deputy to discuss a draft cooperation agreement with the Republic of Uganda in the areas of commerce, investment, education, science, technology, culture, information, youth and sports;
• authorization for the Minister of Justice or his deputy to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding with judicial authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran;
• authorization for the Minister of Communications or his deputy to discuss a draft cooperation agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the area of maritime transportation;
• approval for the Research Center at the King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran to conduct tests on specimens of insulators used in high-current cables, in accordance with the request of the Cast Electrical Components Company of South Africa; and to conduct a study to assess the runway of Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, in accordance with the request of the Soil Engineering and Material Testing Company of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan;
• authorization for the Ministry of Higher Education to consult with other bodies to prepare a draft bill entitling the Kingdom's universities and research centers to conduct pre-paid studies or provide scientific services at the request of foreign organizations;
• amendment of an article of the agreement on setting up the Saudi-Egyptian Construction Company to read as follows: "Any party of the agreement has the right to sell its shares to a national or persons carrying either Saudi or Egyptian nationality without any legal, financial or taxation restrictions. It is also permitted that the purchaser be of another nationality provided he obtains consent of the other party and, with the agreement of the two parties, that the company be sold to a national or person carrying either nationality or another nationality as long as approval of the two parties has been obtained".