Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly session of the Council of Ministers, and prayed that God Almighty bless the new year of the Hijrah calendar with peace for the Muslim world, enhancing its cohesion, solidarity and cooperation in all matters. King Fahd urged all Muslim leaders and peoples to follow the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and adhere to Shariah [Islamic Law] in order to enable the Muslim world to navigate present and future challenges and dangers. "Islam's message", he said, "calls for peace, and renounces violence and terrorism in all forms. The Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah [deeds and sayings of the Prophet] call for peace for all mankind regardless of religion, race, or tongue." He went on to reaffirm that Islam is universal and moderate; and that it alone can save Muslims in today's crises.
On the Palestinian issue, King Fahd noted that the tragic situation of the Palestinian people suffering from continued Israeli escalation of its aggressive practices requires that the international community and the United Nations force Israel to halt its plans aimed at terminating the peace process, through the utter destruction of the Palestinians' infrastructure, homes and farms, and the assassination and detention of Palestinian leaders. The King stressed that the Palestinian people and their leadership are in dire need of active Arab, Islamic and international support at this juncture when the world is distracted from the Palestinian issue and preoccupied with other crises.
As for Iraq, King Fahd declared that the Kingdom is keenly following the development of events, the debates at the UN Security Council, and efforts aimed at saving the region from the detrimental consequences of war on Iraq and resolving the crisis peacefully. The elimination of weapons of mass destruction, he said, should be obligatory on all countries in the region, without exception, in order to enable everyone to enjoy security and stability.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including authorization for the Investigation and General Prosecution Authority to participate in an independent capacity, and not as part of the Ministry of Interior, in a committee formed according to the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances; and endorsement as guidelines for a period of four years of two bills, one concerning prosecution of juveniles, and the other covering civil legal procedures, in the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued by the 22nd GCC Summit in Muscat, Oman on December 31, 2001.
The cabinet also approved the establishment of a supreme authority for oversight of medicines and foodstuffs, to undertake all the procedural, executive and control functions of the existing government food and drug organizations, reporting directly to the Prime Minister, and with its major responsibility the safety, security, validity and effectiveness of food and medicine for both human beings and animals; the safety of cosmetics, pesticides, and other biological and chemical products; protection from the impact of electronic products on public health; and scrutiny of standards for medical and diagnostic devices. The authority is also charged with setting up explicit plans for food and drugs; conducting relevant studies; monitoring the implementation of procedures related to the issue of licenses for factories producing food, medicine and medical equipment; exchanging and publishing information with relevant local and international bodies; and building a data base for food and drugs.
The Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General will head the Board of Directors, which will have the Minister of Interior as deputy; and as members, the ministers of health, commerce, municipal and rural affairs, agriculture, water, finance and national economy, and industry and electricity; as well as experts on food and medicine, and senior representatives from the Saudi Arabian Standard Organization and the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.