Riyadh - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud here Thursday and discussed the situation arising out of Yemen issue and the matters of mutual interest.

Nawaz Sharif, who arrived here on a day-long visit with a powerful delegation including army chief General Raheel Sharif, met Saudi ruler at the King’s Palace and reiterated ‘solidarity’ with the kingdom in line with earlier commitments from Islamabad to defend KSA’s territorial integrity, an official said.

The Islamabad-Riyadh ties saw a visible dip after Pakistan’s parliament refused to send forces to help a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and advised the government to play the peacemaker role while staying neutral in the Yemen imbroglio. An earlier Pakistani delegation, led by PM’s brother Shahbaz Sharif, failed to soothe soured Saudi nerves.

To amend the historically close ties between the two Muslim states, PM Sharif himself took to visiting the kingdom and meet with the Saudi leadership. Bedsides the army chief, the prime minister in the meeting was accompanied by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, his Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry. During the delegation level talks, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and King Salman led their respective teams.

Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Crown Prince and Minister for Interior, Prince Mohammad bin Nayef Al-Saud and Defence Minister, Prince Mohammad bin Salman also met Prime Minister Sharif and discussed matters of mutual interest. Pakistani premier also met Yemeni President Mansour Hadi in Riyadh. The King also hosted a lunch in the honour of the Pakistani delegation.

Earlier, upon arrival at the airport, the prime minister was received by Deputy Crown Prince and Minister for Interior, Prince Mohammad bin Nayef Al-Saud and Minister for Defence, Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud. Guard of honour was presented to the PM on his arrival. The delegation then proceeded to the Royal Palace, where King Salman warmly received the prime minister at the main entrance. Earlier on board special plane, the prime minister chaired a meeting on Yemen situation which was attended by members of his delegation.

A Saudi-led coalition conducted a 27-day campaign of air strikes in Yemen aimed at halting the advance of allegedly Iran-backed Shia Huthi rebels and their allies. On Tuesday night the coalition said it was starting a new phase aiming to resume Yemen’s political process, deliver aid and fight “terrorism,” as air strikes continued. The Huthis, allied with army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, are fighting forces on the side of coalition-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government has sought refuge in Riyadh.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan has remained ostensibly neutral in the conflict. Pakistan’s parliament this month unanimously voted against complying with Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia’s request for troops, warplanes and ships. Parliament said Pakistan should instead play a mediating role. In a unanimous resolution it backed the government’s commitment to protect Saudi territory, which was not directly threatened during the conflict although there were armed skirmishes along the border.

A Pakistani official said parliament’s decision was “not at all” a point of contention with the Saudis. “The two countries have the type of relations which are pretty mature. They understand what parliament’s position was,” he said, asking for anonymity.

Saudi Arabia’s official press agency only said talks covered bilateral, regional and other issues. Pakistan has deep military ties with Saudi Arabia but it has been reluctant to become ensnared in a conflict with sectarian overtones while violence against minority Shias rises at home. Shias comprise about 20 percent of Pakistan’s population. Some analysts saw Sharif’s trip as an attempt to pacify the Saudi royal family, with whom he has close personal ties after they sheltered him during his years in exile.