Rouhani Plans Eurotrip, Axes Lunch Meeting With French Pres Over Wine, Halal Meat

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Washington, DC

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is set to make official visits to France, Italy, and the Vatican next week. In doing so, he will be the first Iranian president to make state visits through Europe in a decade, according to reports.

However, the Iranian leader’s Islamic ideology has forced him to cancel a lunch meeting scheduled between he and French President Francois Hollande.

Rouhani requested that only Halal meat be served, and that wine, which is forbidden in Iran, also be left off the menu. However, French officials rejected the request to accommodate Rouhani’s demands, according to French news site RTL.

“A meal had been planned but fell through,” a source involved in the negotiations over the lunch menu told RTL, citing “republican traditions” for not caving to Rouhani’s item requests.

Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, which installed a theocratic dictatorship, consumption of alcohol is strictly banned. Doing so can subject an Iranian to the hudud punishments, for “Crimes against God.”

Hollande and Rouhani will still meet on November 17 to discuss a plethora of issues, but will not be sharing a meal together.

While in Paris, Rouhani will also address a UN forum in Paris, reports have said. He will deliver a speech at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Leaders’ Forum.

“President Rouhani will address UNESCO general assembly as a keynote speaker as special guest of the Secretary-General,” Rouhani’s office confirmed.

During his Europe trip, Rouhani will also have official meetings with the Italian president and prime minister, the Iranian President’s office added.

After Rouhani visits Italy, Rome will send a delegation of some 140 companies to Tehran in late November to discuss trade ties. The Italian companies are “active in different fields including industry, business, mining, oil, gas and environment sectors as well as manufacturing of vehicles, different machineries and medical equipment,” Iran’s state-controlled Mehr News Agency wrote. The two sides hope to sign a memoranda of understand for the bilateral expansion of ties.

After departing Rome, Rouhani will travel to the Vatican, where he will meet with Pope Francis and Prime Minister Archbishop Pietro Parolin, an Iranian official told state-run media on Monday.