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, and briefed the Cabinet on the 17th Arab Summit held recently in Algiers. The Cabinet expressed its satisfaction over the decisions taken by the Summit on joint Arab action and renewed commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative as a means of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East; on the right of the State of Lebanon to sovereignty and the practice of its political options; on the importance of reforming the system of the United Nations including enhancing the role of the General Assembly for the preservation of international peace and security and restriction on the use of veto; and on the need for member countries to pay their dues to the League of Arab States as decreed by the 2004 Tunis Summit.
The Cabinet gave full praise to the efforts exerted by President of Algeria Abdulaziz Bouteflika to accomplish the tasks of the Summit and commended his concluding address in which he reminded the participants of the ‘Pledge of Accord and Solidarity’ that was endorsed at the Tunis Summit. In that document, the Arab leaders vowed to stress their unity and solidarity; to embark on decisive and effective joint action in order to achieve the best interests of the Arab world; and to fully and faithfully commit to implementation of joint decisions.
The Cabinet was then briefed on contacts with a number of Arab and friendly countries, including the visit by Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz to the Republic of Sudan, where he signed two agreements, one on counter-terrorism and the other on combating drug smuggling.
Turning to items on its agenda, the Cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including approval of a draft memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania; and authorization for the Director-General of the Customs Department or his deputy to sign the draft agreement between the International Customs Organization and its member states in North Africa and the Middle and Near East regarding the inclusion of simultaneous interpretation into the Arabic language in technical training courses and seminars that cover customs affairs.
The Cabinet ratified the GCC agricultural quarantine bill that was passed at the 22nd Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Muscat, Oman. The new law is aimed at preventing the entry and spread of agricultural pesticides, protecting the environment and plant resources, and facilitating trade among GCC member states. The Cabinet also ratified the penalties to be imposed on violators of the law, which goes into effect 90 days after it is published in the official gazette, at which time the current agricultural quarantine regulations are annulled.
The Cabinet also approved amendments to a number of articles of the system of the General Corporation for Water Desalination (formerly the Saline Water Conversion Corporation) that were originally issued in 1973.
These articles now read as follows:
“Article (1): The General Corporation for Water Desalination (GCWD) is an independent public corporation which enjoys a legal personality and all rights necessary to practice its activities. Administratively, its head reports to the Minister of Water and Electricity. ……
“Article (3), paragraph (c): Concluding foreign agreements and contracts for selling and purchasing water, electric power and steam with the producing and distributing parties, be they government or private sector organizations. ……
“Article (4): The establishment's board of directors is formed of the Minister of Water and Electricity as chairman, its Governor as Vice Chairman and each of the Undersecretaries of the ministries of Water and Electricity, Municipal and Rural Affairs, Finance, Petroleum and Mineral Resources, and Economics and Planning and two representatives of the private sector as members. ……
“Article (6), paragraph (f): Setting up, purchasing, selling, leasing and renting real estate buildings to achieve the purposes of the organization."
The Cabinet has instructed the GCWD to expedite measures to restructure the organization and forward the study to the higher authorities.