Saudi Kingdom works to unify Arab ranks

Posted in Broader Middle East | 17-Feb-09 | Source: Gulf in the Media

Saudi King Abdullah smiles in his palace in Riyadh February 14, 2009.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday told the Council of Ministers that Saudi Arabia was making intensive efforts to unify Arab ranks and mobilize support for Arab causes.

"Our objective is to remove all obstacles that stand in the way of Arab unity," the Saudi Press Agency quoted the king as telling the first meeting of the new Cabinet.

King Abdullah initiated reconciliation among Arab leaders by holding talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad on the sidelines of the Arab economic summit in Kuwait last month.

During the summit, King Abdullah called upon Arab leaders to end their differences and open a new era of unity and solidarity.

"Allow me to announce in all our names that we have overcome the period of disunity, opening the door of Arab brotherhood, and that of unity for all Arabs without exception or reservation, and that we will face the future with total unity and without any discord," the king told the summit in his keynote speech.

While addressing the Cabinet meeting, King Abdullah praised the efforts of Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa for the achievement of reconciliation among Arab leaders. "The king also praised Arab foreign ministers for their efforts to translate his unity initiative into a reality," said Abdul Aziz Khoja, the newly appointed minister of culture and information.

While praising the positive response of Arab leaders to his unity call, King Abdullah said: "We have to make more efforts in this direction." He briefed the ministers on the content of messages he had sent to President Bashar, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar.

He said the recent contacts with Arab leaders were aimed at not only strengthening Arab unity but also the success of Arab causes, most importantly the Palestinian cause. The king stressed the need to reconcile Palestinian factions. King Abdullah lauded Egypt's efforts to achieve a permanent truce in Palestine and achieve Palestinian unity.

Before the Cabinet meeting, Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed, the newly appointed minister of education, Khoja, and Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, health minister, took the oath in the presence of the king.

King Abdullah congratulated the new ministers and wished them every success in their efforts to serve the Kingdom and its people. The ministers thanked the king for bestowing his confidence in them.

King Abdullah thanked former ministers and officials for their services and urged the new ones to double their efforts for the country's development. "Citizens are expecting greater efforts from your side to facilitate their interests," he told the new ministers.

Before leaving for Khoraim Gardens outside Riyadh, King Abdullah received Abdullah Al-Asheikh, the newly appointed chairman of the Shoura Council, as well as Abdullah bin Munie, Abdullah Al-Mutlak and Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, the newly appointed advisers at the royal court.

Khoja said the Cabinet took a number of important decisions. It approved changes to Article 3 of an aviation agreement between Saudi Arabia and India. According to the changed article, each party will have the right to operate one or more air carriers to provide air transport services. However, the carriers should obtain transport rights in accordance with the operation schedules and quotas.

The Cabinet authorized the minister of culture and information to hold talks with his Indian counterpart to sign a memorandum of understanding for cultural cooperation.