Mohammad Khatami, the President of Iran, has declared that he will refuse to sit at the same table as King Juan Carlos of Spain if wine is served during the meal. His initiative has caused a flurry of diplomatic activity.
The protocol departments of the Spanish and Iranian foreign offices are working overtime to find a way through the thorny issue of whether or not wine is served at a state banquet. For a good Spaniard, a meal without wine is unthinkable and as King of Spain, one of the world’s leading wine producers, Juan Carlos could be expected not to cede to pressure, especially when he is at home.
On the other hand, the consumption of alcohol is banned under Islam. President Khatami’s decision stems from an incident in 1999, when he was photographed at a table with the daughter of the Italian President, with a wine glass in front of him. Hundreds of photographs began to circulate in Teheran and his claim that he had not consumed alcohol did little to counter the gossip.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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