Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, and briefed the cabinet on his talks with visiting Prime Minister of Pakistan Zafarullah Khan Jamali, and other consultations on current international developments. Concerning Palestine, the cabinet denounced Israel's continuing arrogant practices, including the resumption of a policy of assassination, destruction, sabotage, demolition of homes, and placing civilians under siege, thereby undermining the peace process in particular and destabilizing peace and stability in the region as a whole; and called on the international community to make an effective move to halt Israel's aggressive practices and intensify contacts among them to work for serious progress towards implementation of the roadmap.
The cabinet then reviewed a report submitted by Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Prince Met'eb bin Abdulaziz on his recent inspection tour of Jizan Province to oversee relief operations and efforts exerted by the local authorities to alleviate the people's sufferings in the wake of heavy rains and devastating floods. King Fahd affirmed that the government would spare no effort to achieve comfort and prosperity for all citizens everywhere, and meet any emergency to alleviate any harm that may affect them. He pointed out that Jizan Province, like other parts of the Kingdom, enjoys every attention of the State, including periodic inspection visits by ministers and senior officials to explore the citizens' needs and ensure that government departments provide them with the best of services.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including approval for the Kingdom to join the Statute of the Islamic Council for Civil Aviation; endorsement of the memorandum of understanding on environment protection with the Islamic Republic of Iran, signed in Tehran on February 6, 2002; authorization for the Minister of Higher Education or his deputy to negotiate a draft memorandum on scientific and educational cooperation with the Ministry of Education of New Zealand; and approval of the proposed general objectives and strategic bases of the Eighth Five-Year Development Plan, 2005 - 2009.
The cabinet also endorsed the proposal that study of the English language be included in the elementary school curricula for both girls and boys, starting with grade 6, effective for the academic year 1425-26 H (2004-05); adding that since highly-qualified teachers are required for teaching the subject, measures should be taken to improve the effectiveness of teaching English at the intermediate and secondary levels, citing curricula development, teacher productivity, and utilization of modern technology.