- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

French officials have reportedly canceled plans for a formal dinner with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Paris next week following a dispute over the menu. 

Mr. Rouhani was set to dine with French President François Hollande during a landmark trip to Europe, but the Iranian, according to France’s RTL radio, insisted on an alcohol-free meal with halal meat, according to traditional Islamic customs. 

But a meal without wine is akin to blasphemy in France, where citizens hold secular ideals sacred. 

The French reportedly counter-offered with a presumably alcohol-free breakfast, but the Iranians rejected the idea because it appeared too “cheap,” according to RTL. Mr. Rouhani and Mr. Hollande will now meet for a face-to-face chat sans refreshments Tuesday. 

Mr. Rouhani kicks off his first official trip to Europe as president this weekend. The trip is meant to be a symbol of Iran’s economic rebirth thanks to international sanctions relief under a newly struck nuclear deal. 

In addition to Mr. Hollande, Mr. Rouhani will meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Pope Francis and Italian companies in Rome on Saturday before moving on to France, where he is set to deliver a speech at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and meet with French officials and companies.

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