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Citing Wine, Rouhani Snubs French Presidential Dinner

Citing Wine, Rouhani Snubs French Presidential Dinner

PARIS — Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has refused a dinner invitation at the French presidential palace with his counterpart François Hollande, because wine was on the menu, French broadcaster RTL reports.

A formal dinner was planned at the Elysée to mark the end of Rouhani's November 16-17 visit to Paris, as part of the first trip to Europe by an Iranian president in 10 years.

In accordance with Islamic dietary laws, Iranian officials request halal menus and bottles of alcohol be removed during official visits abroad. But the no-wine clause was too hard to swallow for French officials who refused to remove the bottles from the menu, insisting that wine is an important part of France's traditions, reports RTL.

Officials at the Elysée, the French presidential palace, tried to right the gastronomic faux-pas by organizing a booze-free breakfast between the two presidents — an offer that the Iranian delegation reportedly rejected as "too cheap."

Rouhani and Hollande are still set to meet to discuss Syria, the fight against terrorism and the Iranian nuclear deal. Could the gastronomic protocol standoff be resolved around a glass of non-alcoholic German-made halal sparkling wine? Not likely.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Will Winter Crack The Western Alliance In Ukraine?

Kyiv's troops are facing bitter cold and snow on the frontline, but the coming season also poses longer term political questions for Ukraine's allies. It may be now or never.

Ukraine soldier in winer firing a large canon with snow falling

Ukraine soldier firing a large cannon in winter.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Weather is a weapon of war. And one place where that’s undoubtedly true right now is Ukraine. A record cold wave has gripped the country in recent days, with violent winds in the south that have cut off electricity of areas under both Russian and Ukrainian control. It's a nightmare for troops on the frontline, and survival itself is at stake, with supplies and movement cut off.

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This is the reality of winter warfare in this part of Europe, and important in both tactical and strategic terms. What Ukraine fears most in these circumstances are Russian missile or drone attacks on energy infrastructures, designed to plunge civilian populations into cold and darkness.

The Ukrainian General Staff took advantage of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's visit to Kyiv to ask the West to provide as many air defense systems as possible to protect these vital infrastructures. According to Kyiv, 90% of Russian missile launches are intercepted; but Ukraine claims that Moscow has received new weapon deliveries from North Korea and Iran, and has large amounts of stocks to strike Ukraine in the coming weeks.

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