"I'm writing to inform you that I find myself obliged to cancel our meeting," [Roman Mayor Walter] Veltroni wrote, according to a copy of the letter sent to Reuters.
"The reason is because of your refusal to answer a question posed to you by an Israeli journalist at a news conference held at the Foreign Press Association (on Friday)," it continued.
"Rome, Mr deputy prime minister, has always had absolute respect for dialogue and the civil exchange of ideas, not to mention, obviously, freedom of opinion and free access to information," the center-left mayor wrote.
As if Tariq Aziz's communing with St. Francis of Assisi wasn't strange enough, the flap over his snub of a Maariv reporter was the weekend's most surreal story. Who could have thought the Iraqi deputy prime minister would "set a veto and discriminate against someone, denying them the right to express themselves"?