Saudi Arabia denounces Israeli massacre against Freedom flotilla

Israel kills innocents in flagrant defiance against whole world, says Saudi cabinet

King Abdullah delivers speech before intercultural dialogue

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ mediation between Bahrain, Qatar leads to agreement over name of new GCC secretary general

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the Cabinet session held at Al-Salam Palace.

At the outset of the session, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expressed appreciation of the visit paid by Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during which talks were held on the brotherly relations as well as regional and international developments.

The King praised the depth of relations between the two brotherly countries which are keen on promoting such relations within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also expressed appreciation of the talks held with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, hailing the keenness expressed by the two sides to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab peace initiative.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques briefed the cabinet on the contacts and messages that took place with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar which addressed gulf affairs. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expressed appreciation of their response to each step that achieves more cohesion among the people of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Members States.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also briefed the cabinet on the telephone calls he received from King Mohammed VI of Morocco and President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal as well as the messages he received from King Juan Carlos I of the Kingdom of Spain in addition to his reception of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, the Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja said the Cabinet then reviewed the political, scientific and economic events and developments at the international arena.

The Cabinet denounced and condemned the massacre committed by Israel whose forces attacked the aid flotilla heading to Gaza Strip to break the siege imposed by the Israeli authorities. The Cabinet described this attack as aggressive and reflects Israel's inhuman practices, flagrant defiance of the whole world and international law, insistence to starve the Palestinian people and prevent all kinds of humanitarian relief, and indulgence in killing innocent people. The Cabinet called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards the barbarous attacks and policy of Israeli occupation authorities.

The Cabinet commended the convening of third Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations inaugurated by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil under the theme 'Bridging Cultures, Building Peace.' The Cabinet emphasized the speech of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques delivered at the Forum. The speech said that 'the Forum is particularly important in light of the challenges that the world is currently facing. These challenges require the cooperative, concerted and integrated endeavors of all, especially to jointly confront the violence and terrorism of extremist groups that advocate hatred and reject dialogue. In keeping with the true principles of Islam, which is a religion of moderation and tolerance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pursued a policy of disseminating a culture of dialogue among civilizations and cultures, with the objective of promoting coexistence and mutual understanding and propagating human values.'

The minister said, on the other hand, the cabinet expressed pride for the Kingdom's assumption of the presidency of the Advisory Committee for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees / / UNRWA / / beginning of July next year for the duration of one year as the first Arab donor country to hold the presidency of this Committee.

The cabinet commended the approval by the states participating in the Review Conference of Non-Proliferation Treaty to hold an international conference in 2012, with the aim of making the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons.

The Minister of Culture and Information said the cabinet then continued discussion of its agenda and issued the following decisions:

First:

The Cabinet approved the amendment to paragraph (a) of item (1) of Article (IV) of the Agreement between the Government of Saudi Arabia and the Government of Libya to regulate the airlines flying regularly between their respective territories and beyond them to read as follows: 'The contracting party shall appoint an air carrier or air carriers to operate the agreed lines on the specified routes and to notify the other party of that in writing.'

A royal decree to this effect has been prepared.

Second:

The cabinet approved that the Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs shall replace the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs as member of the Civil Defense Council.

Third:

After consideration of the Shoura Council's resolution No. (5 / 1) dated 07.03.1431, the cabinet approved the memorandum of understanding in the field of technical and vocational training between the General Organization for Technical and Vocational Training in Saudi Arabia and the New Zealand International Technical Institutes in New Zealand signed in the New Zealand city of Willington on 04/06/1430H corresponding to 02/04/2009 G., according to the text attached to the decision.

A royal decree to this effect has been prepared.

Fourth:

Having examined the report submitted by the President of King Abdulaziz City for Sciences and Technology and after consideration of the Shoura Council resolution No. (78/51) dated 13/11/1430 H. taken in this regard, the cabinet approved the Kingdom's accession to the following conventions:

1 - Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space, adopted based on the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations No. 2345 (D-22) dated 19/12/1967.

2 - Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space adopted based on the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations No. 3235 (D - 29) dated 11/12/1974.

3 - Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, which was adopted based on the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations No. 34/68 (D - 21) dated 05.12.1979 according to the text attached to the decision.

A royal decree to this effect has been prepared.

Fifth:

Having examined the proposed project of structuring of the Saudi Organization for Standardization, Metrology and Quality prepared at the Experts' Commission of the cabinet on the basis of article (II) of the cabinet decision No. (61) dated 28.2.1430 H., the cabinet approved the aforementioned organization according to the text attached to the decision.

The most prominent features of the organization include:

1 - Issuance of Saudi standard specifications, regulations and quality manuals that shall be compatible with Islamic law and in the interest of the Kingdom and achieve at the same time the requirements of the World Trade Organization in this area.

2 - The Organization is the reference in the Kingdom for all aspects concerning standard specifications, conformity assessment procedures and the granting of quality mark, measurement and calibration. All government and private sectors shall abide by the Saudi standard specifications in all its purchases and its work.

Sixth:

The cabinet decided to appoint three businessmen as members of the board of the Saudi Organization for Standardization, Metrology and Quality for a period of three years effective the date of this decision. They are:

1 / Mr. Ali bin Othman Al-Zaid. 2 / Mr. Mazen Bin Mohammed Batterjee. 3 / Engineer Abdullah bin Ali Alsane'.

Seventh:

The cabinet approved the appointment of Abdullah bin Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al Hagbani to the position of Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry for Teachers Affairs (rank 14) at the Ministry of Education.

Meanwhile, on behalf of King Abdullah, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, led his country's delegation to the 3rd Forum of Alliance of Civilizations which was opened by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Republic of Brazil in the presence of Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations and a number of leaders of the world.

Following is the text of the Foreign Minister's speech:

'Your Excellency, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Your Majesties, Highnesses and Excellencies : Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am honored to convey to you the greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who was not able to attend in person, and with your permission I will read his statement to this forum:

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate Peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and on all Prophets and Messengers

I would like to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to H.E. President Luiz da Silva for hosting this important Forum in his country. Brazil is known for the harmony that prevails among its various ethnic, religious and cultural communities. I also wish to commend the endeavors that their Excellencies the Prime Minister of Spain, the Prime Minister of Turkey, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations are making to achieve our common goal of promoting dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation among all people and countries.

Your Majesties, Highnesses and Excellencies,

This Third Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, under the theme آ« Bridging Cultures, Building Peace آ», is particularly important in light of the challenges that the world is currently facing. These challenges require cooperative, concerted and integrated endeavors from all of us, especially to jointly confront the violence and terrorism of extremist groups that advocate hatred, reject dialogue and seek to cause havoc and kindle the flames of strife and conflict.

In keeping with the true principles of Islam, which is a religion of moderation and tolerance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pursued a policy of disseminating a culture of dialogue among civilizations and cultures, with the objective of promoting coexistence and mutual understanding and propagating human values. This is the manner in which confrontation can be replaced with concord, and how tensions can be eased, conflicts defused, and peace and security achieved.

At the domestic level, we have promoted a nation-wide culture of dialogue. We established a National Center for Dialogue in which all sections of Saudi society participate. We have also paid special attention to the development of education programs, the eradication of illiteracy, and the provision of vocational training opportunities. Our openness to various cultures is illustrated by awarding scholarships to nearly 90,000 male and female students to study at universities in over 14 countries in all 5 continents. By the Grace of God, a University of Science and Technology has been established to receive students from all parts of the world who are working together to apply science and technology to the benefit of mankind.

In the social field, my country's Government is institutionalizing the principles of human rights in the governmental and civil sectors, and spreading the culture of human rights in schools and universities. It is supporting endeavors to preserve the unity of the family, which is the mainstay of social cohesion and the first line of defense against subversion of the country’s youth by propagators of extremist ideologies. Programs and projects have also been adopted to ensure the advancement of Saudi women and enable them to participate effectively in all spheres of life. We do not say that we have achieved all that we desire, but we are steadily moving in the right path.

Your Majesties, Highnesses and Excellencies,

Our initiative for dialogue among the followers of religions and cultures was launched to dispel misunderstanding, eliminate manifestations of conflict, hostility and hatred and emphasize the vast opportunities of cooperation among all religions without interfering with theological doctrines. The purpose of this initiative is to strengthen and promote closer cooperation and integration with the many active efforts that have been made in this field, so they can all serve the common human values calling for virtue, fraternity and peace among all of humanity. Our initiative has proceeded along parallel political and cultural tracks.

On the political track, an Extraordinary Islamic Summit was convened in Makkah in December 2005 at our invitation, in order to reaffirm the rejection of violence, extremism and terrorism and to promote the values of dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect. The High-Level Meeting that was subsequently called by the General Assembly of the United Nations in November 2008 was intended to provide the broadest and highest degree of political support for all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual understanding and disseminating a culture of peace. During that Meeting, we expressed our belief that: آ« Terrorism and criminality are the enemies of every religion and every civilization. Our dialogue, conducted in a civilized manner, should revive and reinstate lofty ideals among peoples and nations. This will constitute a glorious triumph of what is most noble over what is most reprehensible in human beings and will give mankind hope of a future in which justice, security and a decent life will prevail over injustice, fear and poverty آ».

On the cultural track, Muslim religious scholars of all denominations and schools of thought gathered in Makkah in May 2008 to affirm the true nature of the Islamic religion and its message of dialogue and peace. The subsequent World Conference on Dialogue, held in Madrid from 16 to 18 July 2008 and attended by representatives of all the major religions, was, as we described it at the time, آ« a dialogue defending faith against unbelief, virtue against vice, justice against iniquity, peace against conflicts and wars, and human brotherhood against racism آ». The Madrid Declaration that was unanimously approved stated that: 'Respecting human dignity, promoting human rights, fostering peace, honoring agreements and respecting the traditions of peoples as well as their right to security, freedom and self-determination, are the basis for building good relations among all peoples. Achieving this is a major objective of all religions and prominent cultures'. Serious endeavors are currently being made to establish an International Centre for Dialogue comprising representatives of all the main religions working in a fully independent manner, free from any political interference.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia firmly believes that cultural diversity enriches human civilization. As a consequence, it has intensified its endeavors to further cultural contacts with friendly countries by supporting international, regional and civil society organizations and institutions concerned with culture and education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently held a ceremony in which our International Prize for Translation was awarded. My country is participating actively in the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IESCO) and is supporting civil society institutions such as the King Faisal International Award, Al-Beit al-Arabi, the International Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in Spain, and the Arab Thought Foundation. It is also supporting the endowment of academic chairs in many universities of the world; local and international prizes have been awarded to encourage research in scientific fields and the humanities; and cultural and student exchange programs between the Kingdom and other friendly countries are being encouraged.

Your Majesties, Highnesses and Excellencies,

I am fully confident that, by virtue of the kind patronage of H.E. the President of Brazil, and the active participation of the international community, your distinguished meeting will lead to further positive steps and joint initiatives to promote a culture of dialogue and encourage mutual understanding and respect among all human beings in the best interests of mankind.

May God's peace and mercy and blessings be upon you'. On the other hand, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, showed favorable reaction to the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the appointment of next Secretary General for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The two leaders' acceptance comes within the respect and high-profile of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques among the leaders of the GCC and the common factors shared by their peoples, including religion, family ties and common destiny.

The monarch has sent a message to each of the King of Bahrain and the Emir of Qatar within the continuous consultation among the GCC leaders.