By Arab News
Saudi Arabia expressed sadness on Monday at the rising number of civilian deaths because of government repression in Syria and stressed the need to stop the bloodshed.
The Kingdom’s statement came in the meeting of the Council of Ministers chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.
The council discussed the recent Arab League decision to end the observers’ task in Syria following the deepening of the crisis in the country, Minister of Social Affairs Yousuf Al-Othaimin, who is also acting minister of culture and information, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency after the weekly meeting of the council.
King Abdullah briefed the council on the discussions and messages received from world leaders. The king received a message from Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and a telephone call from Moroccan King Muhammad VI over the past week.
The council reviewed a communiqué of the meeting between the GCC and Turkey, which emphasized strong relations between the two sides as a major factor in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
A joint communiqué of the ministers agreed “international efforts should be focused on bringing the bloodshed in Syria to an immediate end and paving the way for the initiation of a political transition process in line with the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Syrian people.”
The council also commended the success of various Saudi delegations that visited foreign capitals in the past week.
They included a delegation led by Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah to the Kingdom’s trade policy review meetings at the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva and another delegation headed by Justice Minister Muhammad Al-Eisa currently visiting the United States.
The council also noted with satisfaction the successful opening of the ongoing “Haj: Journey to the Heart of Islam” exhibition in London and the “Saudi Antique Masterpieces” exhibition in Berlin.
Al-Othaimin said the council decided the deputy defense minister should be the deputy chairman of the board of directors of the General Organization for Military Industries in place of the assistant minister of defense for military affairs.
The council also amended regulations governing the setting of the board of directors of the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation (NCWC). According to the amendments, NCWC’s president will be chairman of the board of directors with its members comprising representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities in addition to four other nominated members. The tenure of a member will be three years that can be renewed once, Al-Othaimin said.
The council also authorized the foreign minister to negotiate with Afghanistan on a draft general agreement of cooperation between the two governments. It also authorized the president of the Youth Welfare Presidency to negotiate a draft agreement of cooperation between the Kingdom and Pakistan.
The council decisions also included the appointments of Hamza Rajeh as administrative adviser at the Ministry of Labor, Muhammad Al-Matrafi and Yusuf Al-Shaer as ministers plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Muhammad Al-Dossary as mayor of Baha.