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July 18, 1999
Sharief flies to Saudi Arabia
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief left today on a four-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, accompanied by seven senior ministers of his Cabinet and the army chief.
Officials said the visit was part of a tradition of high-level consultations between the two countries.
But the composition of Sharief's delegation gave rise to speculation that he is on a mission to tide over the difficulties created by Pakistan's latest military confrontation with India over Kashmir.
Pakistan has been isolated internationally on the issue and was forced to withdraw the forces India said Islamabad had sent into Kashmir.
Analysts said "the humiliating climbdown" and the two-month-long war-like situation heightened Islamic militancy in Pakistan and exposed its economic and diplomatic weaknesses.
Sharief is accompanied by his ministers for Kashmir affairs, finance, foreign affairs, petroleum, home affairs, labour and manpower, and religious affairs, brother Shahbaz Sharief, his closest aide, and army chief General Pervez Musharraf.
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