The last time Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon visited Saudi Arabia, he was stripped of his cellphones, insulted by royal guards, confined and ordered to speak to his Lebanese compatriots on live television and resign.
Four months later, Mr. Hariri is back in Saudi Arabia, apparently on much better terms.
Invited on Monday by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Hariri arrived on Wednesday, conferring with the king as the Saudi news state media showed them smiling together at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, the capital.
A statement by Mr. Hariri’s press office in Beirut said his meetings with the king, who was joined by a retinue of Saudi aides, including the interior and foreign ministers, “focused on the bilateral relations and the latest developments in Lebanon.”
Mr. Hariri was also expected to meet with the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the most powerful figure in Saudi Arabia, who is regarded as the architect of the Lebanese leader’s disastrous November visit.
There was conspicuously no mention in the Saudi news media of the unpleasantness of the earlier trip by Mr. Hariri, the leader of Lebanon’s main Sunni Muslim political coalition and a longtime Saudi ally. That trip threatened to destabilize Lebanon, a linchpin of conflicting politics in the Middle East and the host country for roughly 1.5 million refugees from the seven-year-old war in neighboring Syria.
The gruff treatment Mr. Hariri received from his Saudi hosts at the time partly reflected their frustration over his accommodation with Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite Lebanese organization aligned with Iran.
Lebanese officials said Mr. Hariri had been ordered to resign and to publicly blame Iran, which Saudi Arabia regards as its main regional rival, for meddling in Lebanese affairs.
Mr. Hariri’s resignation announcement, made under what clearly was Saudi coercion, was widely seen as disingenuous in Lebanon and elsewhere. It also seemed to show the limits of Crown Prince Mohammed’s hard-line approach, which had made Mr. Hariri appear subservient to Saudi royalty.
It took an intervention by the French government to enable Mr. Hariri to return home, where he quickly rescinded his resignation announcement.
Saudi-Lebanese relations appear to have improved markedly since then. After announcing on Monday that he had been invited back to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Hariri told reporters: “Saudi Arabia’s main objective is for Lebanon to be sovereign.”