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Ministers’ visits abroad ‘only if very essential’

All ministers in Saudi Arabia now should limit their visits abroad to urgent matters that require their presence, according to a new circular issued by a prominent government body.
The international travels of ministers have had a negative impact on the Cabinet’s weekly sessions, since some ministers are absent from conferences, meetings, forums and symposiums.
An internal circular issued by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers said these visits would have little benefit since the ministers are not required to personally attend those functions. The circular stressed that the ministers should attend Cabinet sessions and be present in their offices.
The circular stressed the importance of a previous decision issued two years ago to regulate participation of officials in international conferences, meetings, forums and symposiums. It noted that any foreign visit by a minister or official should take into consideration factors such as pressing issues at hand, political situation and financial commitments. Saudi Arabia has 30 ministers.
A minister cannot be represented at the Cabinet by anyone except another minister. The term of a minister is four years.
The new edict comes as part of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s political reforms. He set up the National Anti-Corruption Commission for the smooth operation of the government departments.
According to Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, state minister and commander of the National Guard, King Abdullah appointed the Royal Court staff and ministers considering their good qualities. “He gave priority to those who are God fearing and trustworthy,” he added.
King Abdullah appointed trustworthy officials who can deliver, meet the needs of citizens and understand their hopes and aspirations, said Prince Miteb, the king’s eldest son. He said the king removed some ministers and senior officials after completing their four-year terms.

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