Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, and expressed his appreciation to the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the outcome of the Kuwait summit and the resolutions adopted, which, he said, serve the best interests of the GCC member states and their peoples, and are aimed at enhancing the security, stability and prosperity of the Gulf countries in particular and Arab and Muslim nations in general.
The Crown Prince called on the international community to halt Israel's invasion of Palestinian cities and villages, killing of the Palestinian citizens, demolishing of houses and imposing of curfew on the Palestinian cities and camps, and to seriously pursue the achievement of a just peace based on the United Nations.
The Cabinet expressed its condolences to the Iranian government and people, and to the families of the victims of the disastrous earthquake which hit the city of Bam. Stressing that Saudi Arabia stands by the brotherly people of Iran who have been afflicted by this human disaster, and affirming the Kingdom's solidarity with the Iranian people in confronting the catastrophe, the Cabinet welcomed the directives of the GCC leaders to arrange an aid program for the reconstruction of the devastated areas in Iran. For this purpose, the GCC finance ministers are holding a meeting this evening at the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh.
The Cabinet also approved the 8 June 2003 border agreement with the Republic of Yemen to combat cross-border arms smuggling and terrorism.
On domestic issues, the Cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including approval for stock agricultural companies to collectively provide the General Organization for Grain Silos and Flourmills with 300,000 to 600,000 tons of wheat annually to meet part of the Kingdom's needs. The Ministry of Agriculture was authorized to determine each company's quota and set the purchasing price of wheat from Saudi farmers or agricultural companies at SR 1 per kilo [U.S. $ 0.267]. The Cabinet's decision goes into effect for the upcoming agricultural season 1425-26 H [2004-2005].
The Cabinet also approved mandatory premarital health checks. The decision will come into effect 1 Muharram 1425 H [21 February, 2004]. However, couples are not bound by the results of the medical examination and will be allowed to proceed with the marriage regardless of the medical results.