|February 18, 2000|
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, issued a royal decree authorizing the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals to take decisions regarding carrying out exploring, drilling and production operations for gas and other hydrocarbon materials (except oil). The decree also said the authorization includes endorsing needed agreements and contracts with specialized companies.
Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, received a telephone call from King Muhammad VI of Morocco. The two leaders discussed the latest Arab and International developments.
Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, received in his office at the Royal Diwan at the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Affairs, Edward Walker. The audience was attended by Abdul Muhsin Al Tuwaijri, advisor at the Crown Prince's Diwan, as well as the US Ambassador to the Kingdom Wyche Fowler. In a press conference at the end of his visit, Walker expressed his pleasure for visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He said that the Kingdom and the US share friendly relations and mutual interests and that Saudi Arabia remains a key partner to the United States when dealing with political affairs, security issues, international economic policy and trade. He added: "My country appreciates the constructive role played by Saudi Arabia in advancing the Middle East peace process. We have also noted the Kingdom's initiatives to strengthen its economy. The United States supports Saudi Arabian efforts to gain accession to the World Trade Organisation. Both sides look forward to the increasing trade opportunities and further integration into the global economy."
Prince Naif Ibn Abdul Aziz Minister of Interior received Major General Mahmoud Al Amri, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Jordanian armed forces for operations and training, at his office in Riyadh. Prince Naif decorated Al Amri with a King Abdul Aziz medal of the second order. The Jordanian delegation was in a mission to Saudi Arabia within the frame of the second meeting of the border guards officials in the two countries. During the reception, Prince Naif and Major General Al Amri discussed issues of mutual interest to Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Prince Salman Ibn Abdul Aziz Emir of Riyadh region, and Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the centennial celebrations of the Kingdom's foundation, presented a King Abdul Aziz medal of the first order, following an order from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, to several officials in recognition of their services to the celebrations. They are Riyadh Mayor Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Miqren, Abdul Aziz Al Amri, Under Secretary at the royal protocol, Abdullah Al Salloum and Assaf Abuthinian, both private secretaries to the Emir of Riyadh.
Prince Salman Ibn Abdul Aziz Emir of Riyadh region and Chairman of the board of directors of Riyadh Construction Company, urged businessmen, investors and Investment companies to take part in the development of central Riyadh. Prince Salman said: the field is open to investors to develop Riyadh's old areas. He stated to journalists after inspecting the reconstruction project in central Riyadh that the project will be officially launched next August. The project is the fourth phase of the original plan to develop the central area in Riyadh that begun with the development of the religious sites, then the historical sites followed by the administrative buildings and commercial centres. Prince Salman stressed the importance of the private sector in the development projects and encouraged the participation of foreign investments.
King Muhammad VI, President of Al Quds committee called upon Arab and Islamic countries to help Al Quds fund. He said at the opening of the Funds' Board of Directors meeting in Marrakech that his country has fulfilled its obligations. Official sources said that Morocco paid $3 million to the fund. King Muhammad VI said that although Jerusalem is an important issue to Muslims, it has always been opened to other religions. Its political situation has been emphasized by international resolutions and Al Quds committee emphasized its position as an occupied territory. King Muhammad VI said the Israeli measures to judaise the Holy places do not serve the peace and will not ensure the prevalence of security and stability in the region. He added that the problem of Jerusalem is not only the concern of the Islamic world, but it concerns both the Muslim and the Christian world. King Muhammad VI urged the Arab and Islamic countries not to despair. He said we should not despair but be patient and strong in our dialogue so we could reach a just and lasting peace.
Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Beri shrugged off the remark made by Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, who said that if Hizbollah rockets hit Israeli towns "the soil of Lebanon will burn". Mr Beri said that if the head of the Israeli Diplomatic Corps says this what do we expect from the Minister of Defence? Will they return the stolen soil or will they steel it? President Beri advised Levy to go back to the Torah which stresses that as the Lebanese cedar could not be burned (it has been used to build the Solomon shrine), what about its soil? Beri emphasized to the delegations which visited him in his home at Al Mosselah (South Lebanon) that Israel is incapable and can not change the April agreement. He said the last operations undertaken by the resistance came within the frame of understanding and all Israeli soldiers were killed inside the Lebanese occupied territories. But the Israeli project is clear and understandable as its aim is to stop the resistance, which would lead to a separation between the Lebanese and Syrian tracks.
Lebanese Prime Minister Selim Al Hoss, also Foreign Minister called upon all the Lebanese who own properties and lands in occupied Palestine, and who have got ownership documents to forward them to Ambassador Gilbert Oun at the Foreign Ministry who is commissioned with preparing a file for this issue. Addressing a meeting with a delegation representing the owners headed by former minister Pierre Khori, Al Hoss said the government is very concerned about this issue which, will be one of the files to be discussed when the talks on the Lebanese-Israeli track starts. He informed the delegation that the government is determined to raise the issue in the negotiations, and that he commissioned Ambassador Oun to prepare a file including all documents that preserve the rights of the Lebanese owners.
The British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, denied any British involvement in a plot to kill Libyan leader Muammar Al Qaddafi. He described the claims of a top secret report posted on the internet that British intelligence knew at least two months in advance of the plot as pure fantasy. Cook added that the report supports his August 1998 statement in which he publicly denied that British secret agents have been involved in the assassination bid in February 1996. Libyan Foreign Ministry summoned the British Ambassador in Tripoli to seek an explanation for what was mentioned in the report.