Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers today, and reiterated the Kingdom's concern for an end to the war on Iraq, stressing the need to protect the innocent Iraqi civilians. He went on to note that Baghdad, known as the City of Peace, holds a special status in Arab and Islamic history that should be respected; and that the city's historic character should be preserved. The Kingdom reaffirmed its position that it is time for the international community represented by the United Nations to move effectively and positively to ensure Iraq's future, its territorial integrity and the safety of its citizens. The government of Saudi Arabia, as is its wont, is prepared to exert all efforts to end the tragedy and relieve the suffering of the brotherly people of Iraq. The cabinet renewed its demand that what is happening in Iraq should not distract global attention from monitoring the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories in light of Israel's incessant aggressions against the unarmed Palestinian people.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including authorization for the Minister of Interior or his deputy to discuss a draft security agreement with the United Mexican States; and for the Minister of Foreign Affairs or his deputy to discuss a draft cooperation agreement with the Republic of Cuba. The cabinet also endorsed a bill submitted by the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) on the expropriation of real estate ownership for public interest, fixing compensation rates and decreeing that ownership of such properties could be transferred to public utilities such as power companies, waterworks, sanitation services, telephone service providers, natural gas suppliers, railroads and highway maintenance companies. The new act becomes effective 180 days from its publication in the official gazette.