2006 News Story

Cabinet: Israel-Palestine, blasphemous cartoons

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz chaired the weekly Cabinet session at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh today.

At the beginning of the session, King Abdullah briefed the Cabinet on his recent meetings with world leaders and their envoys.

In a statement following the session, Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Madani said that the Cabinet had been briefed on regional and international developments.

The Cabinet was also briefed on the ongoing fallout from the publication of the blasphemous Danish cartoons. The Cabinet said that the Islamic faith is based on a belief in and respect for all prophets, and that Saudi Arabia expects all countries, governments and non-governmental organizations to clearly side with such a respect for beliefs and to support the coexistence of civilizations. The Cabinet expressed confidence that the Islamic world would be able to safeguard its sacred beliefs, sites, identity and unique characteristics without violating the rights of others.

Turning to local issues, the Cabinet discussed the upcoming Jenadriyah Festival, and thanked the National Guard for its efforts in this area.

It also issued a number of decisions, including passing the General Commission for Survey’s organization, hierarchy and guide, and establishing its board of directors, which include: the Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General (chairman), the Deputy Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General (deputy chairman), representatives of other ministries, and two members selected for their scientific expertise.  These members will be appointed by the Cabinet for a three-year term, renewable once. The Commission’s chief will report to the Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General.

The Cabinet ratified two agreements signed March 24, 2005 with Sudan, one to combat drug trafficking and the second for security cooperation to combat crimes including terrorism, money laundering and arms smuggling. The Cabinet also ratified amendments to the Arab League charter previously approved by the Arab summit held in Algiers on March 22-23, 2005.

The Minister of Finance or his deputy was authorized to negotiate a draft agreement with Russia to avoid dual taxation and to prevent tax evasion. Finally, the Cabinet ratified a draft agreement on international railways in the Arab Orient.