RIYADH: The Saudi cabinet on Tuesday called for the situation in Yemen to return to the way it was before separatists seized control in the interim capital Aden and some southern governorates, according to state news agency SPA. The Southern Transitional Council declared a state of emergency on Sunday and said it would self-govern these areas.
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on Monday urged the separatists to reverse their decision, describing it as “escalatory action” at a time when everyone should be focusing on the coronavirus crisis.
Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington is “concerned” about the actions of the STC, warning that they threaten the efforts to revive peace talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels.
“Such unilateral actions only exacerbate instability in Yemen,” he said. “We call on the STC and the Republic of Yemen government to re-engage in the political process provided under the Riyadh Agreement.”
King Salman began the cabinet meeting, which took place by video conference, by thanking everyone in the Kingdom and other countries who had sent congratulations for the start of Ramadan.
The cabinet members passed on their own best wishes for the holy month to the king, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi citizens and all the Islamic peoples of the world.
They also expressed their appreciation to the king for his speech on the eve of Ramadan, during which he said he was proud of the precautionary and preventive measures being taken by Saudi authorities to combat the coronavirus, and thanked all those working tirelessly to slow its spread, including health-care providers, military and security personnel, government officials and all those on the front lines of the battle.
Acting Minister of Media Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi said after the meeting that the cabinet reviewed a number of reports on local and international developments relating to the pandemic. These including the latest information about confirmed cases in the Kingdom, the care provided to patients, and progress reports on the implementation of procedures and measures to preserve public health.
He praised the efforts by authorities in the Kingdom to provide immediate examinations for patients showing symptoms of infection, and supply the tests, medical equipment and medicines needed to deal with the virus. In particular he welcomed the signing of a SR995 million ($265 million) contract to carry out 9 million tests and increase the capacity of laboratories across the Kingdom to analyze the results.
The cabinet also welcomed a royal order to partially lift the curfew in most parts of the country, as well as the resumption of some economic activities, subject to adherence to precautionary and preventive measures.
Ministers discussed the Kingdom’s work with the international community to combat the pandemic, and highlighted the appeal by leaders of the G20 nations to all countries, international organizations, the private sector, charitable institutions and individuals to contribute to the global response and bridge the funding gap.
Al-Qasabi said that the cabinet also noted the king’s approval for an increase of the funds allocated to the Ramadan Iftar (Breaking-Fast) Project, organized by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, which aims to provide Iftar meals for a million people in 18 countries.
Cabinet ministers approved in principle the setting up of a state-owned, joint-stock company for mining services. No further details were given about the size of capital or time frame for its launch.
They also approved a number of other initiatives, including: a memorandum of understanding with the government of the UAE on food security; an agreement with Greece on air transport services; a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of medical products with India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization; a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Control and Anti-Corruption Authority and the UN Development Programme on the prevention of corruption; and the establishment of a Supreme Equestrian Commission.