Saudi Arabia underlines importance of relying on wisdom, pledges support for Bahrain

Saudi Cabinet says U.S. veto against settlement condemnation encourages evasion from legitimacy

Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Clinton discuss developments in Bahrain, region

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ initiative strengthened dialogue among religions, cultures

Deputy Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the Cabinet session held at Al-Yamamah Palace.

At the outset of the session, the Deputy Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques briefed the Cabinet on the telephone calls the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud made to King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, stressing that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will support the Kingdom of Jordan, in all matters involving its interest, security, safety and welfare.

The Deputy Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also briefed the Cabinet on the message he sent to Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of the State of Qatar.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, the Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja said the Cabinet listened to reports on regional and international developments, highlighting what was expressed by 31st Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Cooperation Council of Gulf Arab States at its special session held in Manama to confirm the standing of the GCC countries in the face of any danger threatening any GCC country and the full support to the Kingdom of Bahrain, considering the security and stability of the GCC countries as an integral part of the commitment to both covenants and agreements on security and common defense.

The Cabinet stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands in all its capabilities behind that State and the people of Bahrain.

Following up different events in a number of brotherly Arab and Islamic countries, the Cabinet also stressed the importance of giving priority to wisdom in dealing with such incidents to ensure integrity and stability of these countries and the prosperity of their peoples, Dr. Khoja said.

The Cabinet expressed the regret of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the veto used by the United States of America against Arab Palestinian resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, and warned that this step encourages Israeli authorities to continue the policy of settlements and the evasion of International resolutions.

On internal affairs, the Minister of Culture and Information pointed out that the Cabinet reviewed a number of scientific, cultural activities and vital projects carried out by various ministries and state bodies in several cities and villages within the Kingdom, which underscored the keenness and interest of the wise leadership to implement various development and industrial ventures to meet the future needs of different regions.

He lauded the organizing of an international exhibition and forum for general education in Riyadh, by the Ministry of Education, under the auspices of the Deputy Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, stressing that this Exhibition-cum-Forum is the first of its kind to be held in the Kingdom, hence, it represents a qualitative value-added leap to the process of education.

Dr. Khoja also said that the Cabinet, later, addressed its agenda and issued a number of decisions as follows:

1- The Cabinet authorized the Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior - or his deputy - to discuss with the Syrian side a draft agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic in the field of the transfer of persons sentenced to penalties involving deprivation of liberty and then to submit the signed final version to complete regular procedures.

2- The Cabinet approved the final accounts of King Fahd National Library for the fiscal year (1430-1431 AH).

3- The Cabinet approved the Charter of International Energy Forum and authorized Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources - or his deputy - to sign it during the ministerial meeting of the International Energy Forum set to be held in Riyadh on 22/02/2011. 4- The Cabinet approved the final accounts of the Saudi Development Fund for the fiscal year (1428/1429 AH).

The Cabinet also approved a number of appointments as follows:

1- Prince Dr. Abdulaziz bin Badar bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is appointed to the post of Director General of General Administration of Public Sources (Rank 15) at the General Intelligence Presidency.

2- Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Sadhan is appointed to the post of Director General of Administrative and Financial Affairs (Rank 14) at the Ministry of Interior.

3- Adel bin Abdurrahman Bakhsh is appointed to the post of Minister Plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

4- Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Qurashi is appointed to the post of Director General of Administrative and Financial Affairs (Rank 14) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

5- Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al-Huzimi is appointed to the post of Director General of Follow-up (Rank 14) at the Ministry of Education.

6- Nourah bint Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh is appointed to the post of Director General of the Female Social Supervision (Rank 14) at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State of State Hillary Clinton urged restraint in Bahrain, blasting as unacceptable any violence by the Gulf kingdom's security forces and calling for immediate political reform.

During a call to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal about the wave of protests gripping the Middle East and North Africa, Clinton "underscored the necessity of restraint by the security forces in Bahrain," the State Department said in statement.

The tiny, oil-rich ally, which has Sunni rulers governing over a restive Shiite majority near Shiite but non-Arab Iran, also houses the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet.

It is adjacent to an oil-producing province in Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia where Shiites have also complained of unfair leadership.

The pro-Western and strategically vital Gulf kingdom is also under growing pressure to launch extensive talks with the Shiite-led opposition, amid rising sectarian tensions in the wake of bloody anti-regime protests.

"Bahrain had started on some reform and we want to see them get back to that as quickly as possible," Clinton told ABC's "This Week" program.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice meanwhile called on Middle Eastern allies to "get ahead of reform" and proactively lead their societies to democratic change rather than be forced into it by violent revolt.

"What we're seeing across the region is a yearning for change, a hunger for political reform, economic reform, greater representation, and we support that," she told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The message is the same: no violence, respect the universal rights of people to assemble, to protest, to speak, to form political organizations. And get ahead of reform (and) recognize that there needs to be lasting political change."

Clinton, meanwhile, welcomed an offer by Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to open a "meaningful dialogue with the full spectrum of Bahrain society," according to her office.

And she expressed hope for international support backing the initiative "as a constructive path to preserve Bahrain's stability and help meet the aspirations of all of Bahrain's people."

In her ABC television interview, Clinton insisted President Barack Obama’s administration was not interfering in the kingdom's internal affairs, stressing that Washington "cannot tell countries what they are going to do" and "cannot dictate the outcomes."

And yet she firmly stated that violence against anti-regime protesters "is absolutely unacceptable."

"We very much want to see the human rights of the people protected, including right to assemble, right to express themselves, and we want to see reform," she added.

Obama's National Security Adviser Tom Donilon spoke by telephone with the crown prince, urging him to respect human rights and launch "meaningful" reform, the White House said.

A raid left four people dead and was followed by the army deploying in the capital Manama's Pearl Square, focal point of the protests.

Protesters have since flocked back after Crown Prince Salman, deputy commander of the armed forces, ordered both police and troops to withdraw.

The wave of unrest spreading across the region is testing the underpinnings of US policy, which for decades has seen Washington side with rulers who kept a lid on dissent but provided relative geopolitical stability.

On the other hand, The 'Dialogue on Human Common Factors' conference, organized by Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) in cooperation with the Chinese Islamic Association in Taiwan, concluded this week.

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Al-Turki, Secretary General of the MWL, confirmed that his organization attaches great attention to the issue of dialogue and has, hence, held a number of conference in different countries of the world with followers of other faith and cultures, emanating from the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on dialogue.

He lauded the continuous support rendered by the monarch, his Crown Prince and the Second Deputy Premier, for the MWL and its activities all over the world.

In a final communiquéأ© issued by the conference, the Secretary General lauded the plan to establish King Abdullah Int'l Center for Dialogue.

The statement also thanked the organization for its efforts to spread the values of moderation and co-existence in the world.

The conferees underscored the importance of transferring from the phase of introducing each other to the phase of solidarity and cooperation.

They called on religious institutions and cultural peace-loving groups to aspire past lessons in creating a promising future through consolidating the principles of dialogue and co-existence among the followers of religions and civilizations.

The conference recommended the establishment of a satellite channel specialized in enhancing the culture of dialogue and co-existence.