Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 27 November 2020

King Salman talks Lebanon, Yemen and Iran arms at first Cabinet after surgery

Saudi leader underwent an operation to remove his gall bladder in July

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received congratulations from the seven emirates on the occassion of The Kingdom's 90th National Day. Reuters
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received congratulations from the seven emirates on the occassion of The Kingdom's 90th National Day. Reuters

Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Tuesday chaired an online Cabinet meeting for the first time since leaving hospital last month following successful surgery, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

SPA reported that King Salman arrived in the Neom economic zone on Wednesday for a period of rest and relaxation.

The 84-year-old king was released from hospital on July 30 after undergoing surgery to remove his gallbladder.

He opened the Cabinet by thanking everyone, in the kingdom and around the world, who had wished him a rapid recovery and good health. Ministers then welcomed the king back with further messages of well-being.

Ministers discussed arms embargoes on Iran after a bid led by the US to extend the decade-long international block on weapons deals with Tehran failed at the UN last week. Ministers said that “lifting the international embargo on Iran regarding all types of weapons will lead to more destruction and devastation and will further fuel conflicts in the region, which have suffered from Iranian interference,” the state-run SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman attends a virtual cabinet meeting in Neom, Saudi Arabia, on August 18, 2020. Saudi Press Agency / Handout via Reuters
Saudi Arabia's King Salman chairs a virtual cabinet meeting from Neom, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Press Agency, handout via REUTERS

“The Kingdom supports every international measure that contributes to tying the hands of subversive Iran in the region.”

Sanctions on Iran had been eased under a 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from two years ago. But last week the US lost its long-shot bid to indefinitely extend an international arms embargo on Iran and has now moved to a new diplomatic line of attack. Only two of the Council's 15 members voted in favour of the US resolution.

Washington's European allies all abstained, Russia and China voted against it, and Iran mocked the Trump administration for winning the support of just one other country, the Dominican Republic.

The Saudi Cabinet then discussed a number of local and regional matters, starting with a debriefing on the success of this year’s Hajj given that no participant or organiser was found to have caught coronavirus during the week-long pilgrimage.

Cabinet also discussed the latest local and global coronavirus information, including the increase in testing capacity in the kingdom to over 4 million. They also discussed the latest research on vaccines and prevention methods as well as World Health Organisation co-operation and research.

The Saudi Ministry of Health reported another 1,409 cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing the number to 301,323 with 24,942 active cases undergoing treatment. Of these, there are 1,716 critical cases, while the health condition of the rest is stable, the Saudi Press Agency reported. It added that 34 new deaths have been reported; putting the tally of fatalities at 3,470.

The Cabinet then discussed the situation in Lebanon following a massive blast on August 4 that killed at least 179 and wounded more than 6,500, leaving much of the capital damaged.

The Saudi government talked about assistance and aid to Lebanon and the opening of an air bridge to send supplies provided by the King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Aid Centre.

Ministers also discussed the Riyadh Agreement for a new power-sharing system between the government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council. Officials discussed recent progress in implementing the deal reached in November 2019 to end a standoff in southern provinces.

Updated: August 19, 2020 05:00 PM

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