Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered all government departments and other related agencies to provide the highest level of services to Umrah pilgrims in Ramadan, which is likely to begin on Aug. 1.
King Abdullah issued the order while chairing the Council of Ministers’ meeting at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Monday.
“The Council of Ministers expressed its deep concern and grief at the continuing deaths of civilians including women and children in the unrest in several Arab countries and called on all parties concerned to let wisdom prevail and start dialogues and reforms so that the dignity and rights of the Arab people are protected,” Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja said.
Expressing profound pain at the sufferings of the Somali people due to a severe famine compounded by civil war, the council appealed to the international community to take urgent steps to end the humanitarian crisis there. The council urged the Somali militias to bury their differences and stop violence in order to facilitate relief operations, Khoja said.
The council members commended the king’s recent grant of $ 50 million to provide food to the Somali refugees in collaboration with the World Food Program. This amount is apart from $ 10 million ordered by the king for medical supplies in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The king had also ordered large quantities of dates to be supplied to the Somali refugees, the minister said.
The council condemned Israel’s seizure of the French ship Dignite-Al-Karama heading for Gaza with relief supplies. The council also denounced the Israeli decision to build 336 residential units in the West Bank.
“Military aggression in the Gaza Strip and frequent arrests of Palestinians warrant a stern and unequivocal stand by the international community against Israel’s repeated violations of international laws and UN resolutions,” the council said.
While decrying the recent terror acts in Norway in the strongest terms, the council expressed its unflinching stand against terrorist activities of any kind, whoever the perpetrators. The council also conveyed its condolences to the families of the victims of the attack.
The council members commended the king’s decision of a 50 percent increase in animal feed subsidy and his order to rigorously monitor markets. The subsidy hike is intended to end the shortage of animal feed, which in turn will bring down prices of meat and milk products.
The king briefed the council on the developments over the past week including his discussions with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and a message he received from Moroccan King Muhammad VI, the minister said.
During the meeting, the council approved an amended agreement for the cooperation of Arab countries in relief operations. Another decision taken by the council was to open diplomatic relations with the Republic of Guyana with a nonresident ambassador.
The council also approved a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Institute of Public Administration and the French École Nationale d’Administration. The council endorsed an agreement of collaboration in space research for peaceful purposes between the Kingdom and Ukraine.
The council appointed Ahmad Al-Roudan director general of operations and Abdul Majeed Al-Shomaisy assistant undersecretary in the Interior Ministry, Muhammad Al-Harbi minister plenipotentiary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Fawaz Al-Fawaz director general of the branch office of the Ministry of Civil Service in Riyadh province.