Saudi cabinet reiterates support for Yemen, hopes Gulf initiative is signed

Intensive talks to transfer power to vice-president, form unity government

Congress Party in Yemen praises Saudi Arabia’s position

Revolution youths call for setting up transitional presidential council

European summit call on Yemenis to heed Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ ceasefire appeal

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 briefed the Cabinet on the consultations held over the week on the relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a number of brotherly and friendly countries as well as the latest developments at regional, Arab and international arenas. The King briefed the Cabinet on the message he sent to the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, the Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja said that the Cabinet listened to a number of reports on the developments in a number of Arab countries.

The Cabinet expressed the Kingdom's sorrow at the killing and bloodshed resulting from these incidents.

In this regard, the Cabinet also expressed the Kingdom's sorrow at the violent incidents in Yemen which resulted in causalities and injuries.

The Cabinet called upon all parties to exercise restraint and reason to save Yemen being dragged into more violence and fighting, praying to Allah Almighty to bestow security and stability upon Yemen and its people; speedy recovery to the injured; and bless upon the dead.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia received Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and a number of injured officials and citizens who requested to be treated in the Kingdom.

The Cabinet stressed that the Kingdom's action of receiving the injured from all parties is a duty dictated by religion and neighborly rights.

The Cabinet reiterated the continued efforts by the Kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States to help the brothers in Yemen reach a peaceful agreement that will end fighting, achieve the higher interests, and prevent deterioration of the situation in Yemen.

The Cabinet also expressed hope that the GCC initiative will be signed by all parties to resolve the Yemeni crisis in a way that enhances the security, stability and unity of Yemen.

Dr. Khoja said the Cabinet condemned the Israeli occupation forces' continuation in practicing arrest and assault campaigns as well as all kinds of oppression, torture and arbitrary acts against the Palestinian people, in addition to the aggressive settlement campaign against Al-Quds.

The Cabinet considered these acts as a blatant violation of United Nations resolutions, a flagrant defiance of the will of the international community, and a blockage of both the resumption of negotiations and the achievement of peace in the region.

On the domestic front, Dr. Khoja said the Cabinet discussed a number of issues, highly appreciating the order of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques which approved a detailed plan and a schedule containing urgent short term solutions and urgent future solutions for the increasing numbers of university graduates prepared for teaching, and holders of health diplomas after obtaining public secondary certificates.

The King urged the concerned bodies to carry out the plan in accordance with the specified schedule.

Dr. Khoja said the Cabinet then reviewed a number of items on its agenda and issued the following decisions:

The Cabinet approved the organization of the National Committee for legalizing and standardizing the works of operation and maintenance.

The Cabinet approved a number of measures pertaining to the application of quality management systems in the government sector.

The Cabinet authorized the Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior -or his deputy- to discuss and sign with the Finnish side a draft agreement on cooperation in the field of fighting crime between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government of Finland.

The Cabinet approved the final accounts of Saudi Wildlife Commission for the fiscal year 1428/1429H.

The Cabinet approved the amendment of Articles (5) and (10) of the Electricity Law issued by royal Decree No. (M/56) dated 20/10/1426H. pertaining to electricity co-generation.

The Cabinet approved that the concerned bodies shall take the necessary measures to implement the decision of the GCC Supreme Council during its 30th session held in Kuwait on 14-15/12/2009, regarding equality among GCC citizens in the field of technical education.

Yemen’s Joint Meeting Parties, the main opposition coalition, said it supports the move to transfer power to Vice President Abduraboo Mansur Hadi after the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia.

Saleh is being treated in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for injuries sustained when a rocket struck a mosque in his compound on June 3. Hadi is assuming Saleh’s duties “until the president returns,” Abdu Janadi, the deputy information minister, said in a phone interview. Saleh is recovering and will return in the “coming days,” Hadi said, according to the state-run Saba news agency.

The opposition parties don’t consider the transfer to be a temporary handover, underscoring confusion as to who holds power in the country. The attack followed months of violence between Saleh’s forces and protesters demanding his resignation after 33 years in power, inspired by successful revolts against longtime leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

“It is premature to say that he is completely out of the picture,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai- based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis said. “He left for medical reasons, not political, and there is a big difference between the two. The family members that remained in the country appear to be the ones that make the regime function.”

The elite Republican Guards are led by Saleh’s son Ahmed, while another son Khalid leads an infantry regiment. Nephews control senior positions in the military, security and intelligence agencies.

“We have no objection that power is transferred to Hadi in line with the constitution and the Gulf Cooperation Council plan,” Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties, said in a phone interview. If that doesn’t happen, the group will seek to form a transitional government, he said.

Tareq al-Shami, a ruling-party spokesman, denied reports in local media that a transition is being planned while Saleh and other top officials are abroad.

The attack on the mosque killed 16 people and injured more than 100, Janadi said. Doctors removed two pieces of wooden shrapnel from Saleh’s body, he said.

GCC Secretary-General Abdel Latif al-Zayyani called for restraint to prevent a further deterioration in security after Saleh’s departure. All parties should “renounce violence,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Continued violence threatens a cease-fire between Saleh’s loyalists and anti-government tribal forces. Saudi King Abdullah mediated a truce between the warring forces on June 3, according to tribal fighters.

Clashes continued overnight and three people were killed as armed men fought near the vice-president’s house with soldiers from a division that has defected to join the protesters, said Khalid Mohammed, a witness to the clashes. Gunfire and explosions were heard in the northern part of the capital, where Saleh’s forces have been fighting with those loyal to tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar.

Fighting in the Arabian Peninsula country escalated in the past two weeks after Saleh refused to sign a GCC plan calling for him to step down within 30 days and turn leadership over to Hadi in exchange for immunity from prosecution. It was the third time GCC-led talks had failed.

The six-member Arab Gulf bloc abandoned efforts to broker peace in Yemen after Saleh refused to sign the accord on May 22. Gunmen supporting al-Ahmar, leader of the country’s most influential tribe, battled security forces after the collapse of GCC mediation efforts.

The GCC consists of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Prime Ministers of Britain, Spain and Italy: David Cameron, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and Silvio Berlusconi, have expressed their thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for receiving President Ali Abdullah Saleh of the Republic of Yemen for medical treatment.

In a joint statement issued here, the five European leaders have called on Yemeni parties to respond positively to the appeal of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud, for the cease-fire and national reconciliation to save the lives of the Yemeni people and alleviate their sufferings after long weeks of protests which have led to hundreds of innocent casualties.

The statement said, 'We call on Yemenis in a spirit of national unity and dialogue to find a quick path for reconciliation on the basis of the initiative of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), which we support unconditionally.'