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. At the outset of the session, the Cabinet praised the Crown Prince for his remarks during an audience with citizens from various parts of the Kingdom, including a delegation of teachers and students from Umm Al-Qura University, in which he commented on the unity of all citizens in the service of their religion and their country, and noted that Islam is an ethical religion of fidelity and humanity, and love and mercy to all creatures. The Cabinet expressed its satisfaction at this strong unity, and at the fact that citizens have been coming from all over Saudi Arabia to declare to their leaders their strong condemnation of the criminal acts which have been occurring in the country, and their full support for the measures taken to deter not only the deviant group, but individuals who hide them, fail to report them, defend their ideas, or keep silent about their actions.
Commenting that homeland security is the responsibility of all, the Cabinet praised the citizens for renewing their loyalty to their religion, their King and their country, for stressing their unity, and for standing by the security forces in confronting this evil group of terrorists. The Cabinet stressed how important it is for citizens to cooperate with security officers to confront the wicked acts that are targeting people's security and safety, acts that have been perpetrated by a deviant group working in darkness to destroy property, violate the sanctity of life, and intimidate people who consider themselves safe.
As regards Iraq, the Cabinet affirmed the importance of the resolution unanimously passed last Tuesday by the United Nations Security Council, recognizing that as of June 30, 2004, with the end of the occupation, the transitional government will assume full responsibility and authority in a sovereign Iraq; and that the Iraqi people have the right to freely determine their political future and fully control their financial and natural resources. The Cabinet looks forward to the implementation of this resolution, which will help support the authority and full sovereignty of the Iraqi government and overcome all obstacles to the exercise of its powers in the service of the aspirations of the Iraqi people and the establishment of security and stability in Iraq and the region.
On the Palestinian issue, the Cabinet expressed its satisfaction at and support for Egyptian mediation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel towards activation of the peace process. Crown Prince Abdullah reported that this issue, among others, was discussed during consultations held by himself and by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz with a number of leaders and senior officials of brotherly and friendly countries.
Turning to domestic issues, the Cabinet passed a resolution declaring education to be compulsory for all Saudis between the ages of six and fifteen years, as recommended by the Minister of Education, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Higher Panel for Education Policy. Other resolutions include endorsement of an agreement on cooperation between the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Archives and Research and Yemen's National Center for Documents, which was signed in Sanaa on July 5, 2003; endorsement of the agreement on cooperation in the area of youth and sports that was signed in Riyadh on June 17, 2003 with the Government of the Sudan; ratification of the draft System of Competition; authorization for the Minister of Foreign Affairs or his deputy to sign the framework agreement issued by the World Health Organization to combat the use of tobacco products; and authorization for the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources or his deputy to sign the draft agreement on technical cooperation between the Saudi Geological Survey and the Arab Organization for Industrial Development, based in Rabat, Morocco.