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France Cancels Dinner Over Iranian President's Wine-Free Request

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/11/2015 Andy Campbell
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No dinner with extended family is complete without a little whine.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is making a European tour starting this weekend, following a sweeping deal with Europe and the U.S. that would lift international sanctions in exchange for strict nuclear rules.

But no rules are more strict, perhaps, than France's cultural and culinary customs. French officials reportedly canceled plans for a formal meal in Paris between Rouhani and French President Francois Hollande, because the Iranians demanded a wine-free affair with halal meat, The Independent reports.

The two leaders will instead meet on Tuesday -- after Rouhani's visits with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Pope Francis and Italian companies over the weekend -- but not over a meal. French officials apparently tried to counter Iran's demands with an offer of breakfast, but RTL Radio reports that the Iranians called that idea "too cheap."

It's possible that the real spat is between the two countries' party planners, and that neither leader was involved in the meal-breaking decision.

But the meeting is nevertheless an important moment for both. France is among several European powers planning to lift economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict monitoring and limits on the country's nuclear program.

Huffington Post's Jessica Shulberg reports:

Over the next six to nine months, Iran will begin dismantling the bulk of its centrifuges, shipping out stockpiles of uranium, and filling the center of the heavy-water reactor in Arak with concrete so it can no longer produce plutonium that could be used as nuclear weapons fuel. 

Once the International Atomic Energy Agency declares that Iran has lived up to its end of the deal, the U.S., the European Union and the U.N. will begin to lift sanctions, providing Iran with over $50 billion.

Rouhani said Wednesday on European television that Iran and France are already in talks about auto and air manufacturing deals, according to The Associated Press. Rouhani insisted that Iran "is completely ready to keep all of its commitments" of the nuclear deal as long as the other signatories "keep theirs as well."

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