Ten days of N Korea talks, 2,000 cups of coffee

Beijing, Aug 4 | Updated: Aug 5 2005, 05:30am hrs
Ten days into what have become marathon talks to end the crisis over North Koreas nuclear ambitions, weary delegates from six countries have gulped down 2,000 cups of coffee to keep themselves awake.

Beating back the summer heat, thirsty delegates from the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, Japan and host China have also consumed 5,000 bottles of mineral water, Qing Gang, spokesman for the Chinese delegation, told reporters on Thursday.

And, perhaps in need of energy, delegates have displayed a penchant for sweets, consuming an average of 20 kg (44 lb) of pastries each day and ploughing through three enormous vats of semi-sweet green pea gruel, Qin said. Asked whether delegates were running out patience, Qin said: This is a test of our patience.

Staff from nine departments of Chinas Foreign Ministry have been holed up in the talks venue, the exclusive Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, since the day before negotiations began, some enduring illnesses and time away from their young children.