Iran's first lady has made a rare public appearance and even more rare, a speech, at a Rome forum on the eve of a U.N. summit to fight hunger.

The wife of Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad almost never appears in public with her husband and is believed never to have previously addressed a public gathering.

First Lady Azam al-Sadat Farahi came to a forum of wives of heads of state on Sunday. The summit on strategy to fight world hunger begins Monday at the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Farahi wrapped a black chador tightly about her as she sat among first wives. She made some remarks at the forum, which was led by Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.