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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, opened the eighth session of the Saudi Shoura Council on Wednesday.
The king said during his speech that the Kingdom was working to complete large-scale projects to facilitate the performance of Umrah pilgrims, and that it was keen to prepare for the Hajj pilgrimage under the exceptional circumstances of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
He added that the Kingdom had responded to the economic effects of coronavirus with initiatives and swift measures, including 218 billion riyals ($58.1 billion) for private sector support and 47 billion riyals ($12.53 billion) for the health sector, therefore reducing the economic and health impact of the pandemic, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Saudi Arabia had also supported international efforts to contain the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic globally and has provided medical aid and supplies to a number of countries, the king added.
“I reiterate my thanks to my brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, citizens and residents, for their understanding and cooperation in adhering to measures and protocols,” he said.
King Salman also spoke about oil prices, adding that the Kingdom — since the establishment of OPEC — had been working and continued to work to ensure the stability of global oil supplies, and played a pivotal role in establishing and maintaining the OPEC+ agreement earlier in the year.
The king said Saudi Arabia’s Vision2030 program was a road map for a better future for the Kingdom, citing its impact on improving government services and raising the percentage of house ownership as examples.
He added that Vision2030 was working to empower women and continued to develop entertainment, sports and tourism in the Kingdom.
Speaking about Iran, King Salman reaffirmed the seriousness of the Iranian regime’s malign regional influence, and that Iran was interfering in the countries of the region, supported terrorism and extremism as well fueling sectarianism.
A firm stand should be taken by the international community toward the Iranian regime, and a radical solution had to be found to ensure that Iran did not acquire weapons of mass destruction, he added.King Salman also said the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen continued to violate international laws through its actions in the country.
“We affirm the support of the Yemeni people so that Yemen can regain its sovereignty from Iran’s control,” he said, adding that “we will continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people.” He said the Kingdom rejected any attempts to interfere in its internal affairs, as well as rejecting terrorism, extremism and its financing.
“Our region is facing attempts by regional powers seeking to impose their political influence and spread their extremist ideology to serve their own interests,” he said.
Speaking about the wider Middle East region, King Salman reaffirmed the Kingdom’s solidarity with Iraq and its people, and the efforts of the Iraqi government in its fight against terrorism. He also said Saudi Arabia supported efforts to preserve the unity of Syria and the exit of militias and mercenaries from the country.
He said the Kingdom called for an end to foreign interference in Libya’s affairs and stressed the importance of supporting Sudan at the present time. He said Saudi Arabia’s chairmanship of the G20 confirms the strength of its economy, which affects the stability of the world economy.
The Kingdom assumed the G20 presidency on Dec 1, 2019 and is set to host its annual 15th G20 Summit in the capital Riyadh later this month.
“During the G20 summit, we are looking forward to finding solutions to the pressing issues of the 21st century,” King Salman added. Meanwhile, he said “we are continuing with our approach to combating and eliminating corruption to preserve public money,” adding that the Kingdom will continue to announce all corruption cases and investigations with full transparency.
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