After 3 days of hard bargaining the G20 finance ministers have agreed to 'take tea' during the summit as opposed to 'the coffee option' which was strongly favoured by Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary.
In a massively symbolic moment Britain’s Chancellor, Alistair Darling, secured a vital concession from the Americans. Over the past few months tensions had risen, with Obama’s economic team focusing on a more American style beverage stance but Darling will take heart from both the result and the dedication of his negotiators.
'Tea, Earl Grey with milk (sugar optional)' could well go down as the greatest quote ever to arise from a major global summit. China had initially been supportive of the US 'Latte or Mocha' approach but with domestic tea consumption on the slide quickly came round to the British point of view.
US commentators were aghast at how quickly support had crumbled for the 'coffee option' and now wondered whether the President would have to abandon his bid for greater hot-beverage bilateralism or stay the course, further isolating the USA from the rest of the world.
“These are dangerous times” said The Stupid Times' Tea Correspondent Harold Watko. “Not only has the Obama administration been embarrassed but there is real possibility that the country will go isolationist and protectionist in a major area of consumption for the American market."
US diplomats, realising the severity of the situation, tried to back peddle with an 'any type of coffee and tea bags (English Breakfast) if wanted' corollary but rather than pouring oil on troubled waters and calming global drinkers this merely highlighted differences between the two sides.
In a rare moment of entente the French finance minister saw the opportunity for American defeat and intimated that as a Frenchman he would “seulement drink proper tea, vous savez, brewed in a pot. And no putting the lait in second, either. Je veux it just like my English brothers do”
This drew gasps from even hardened officials who remembered the great 'brown or white' bread debate between Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik 1986 which was never actually settled but did lead to the 'jam or marmalade (breakfast only)' communiqué and the Intermediate-Range Boiled Egg Treaty.
by Robert Dobson
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