Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
How the talks drama unfolded
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness take a break from the talks
By BBC Northern Ireland Political Editor Stephen Grimason
The history of Northern Ireland has again been played out on the world stage.
On Wednesday, world leaders were queuing up to offer their support, as key players in the peace process tried to work out a deal that would enable the establishment of a power sharing executive.
Early on Wednesday morning, the mood was reasonably positive but by lunchtime it had become more sombre.
As mid-evening approached, more details emerged about the real nature of Sinn Fein's offer on decommissioning.
The key elements of the offer were that the party would sign up to a timetable for giving up weapons, beginning later this year and leading to total decommissioning by May 2000.
This was in return for the triggering of the D'hondt mechanism - the selection of a Northern Ireland executive which includes Sinn Fein.
Republican sources told the BBC they would deliver decommissioning if the deal was agreed.
However, Ulster Unionists were still unhappy with that offer because the sequence involved required Sinn Fein to be involved in the executive for at least three months before any weapons were handed over. This, they said, was immoral.
As the night progressed, further meetings were held, including sessions with the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein.
Gerry Adams asked to address the Ulster Unionists personally, but this was refused.
He produced his own report which he gave to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, but details of which were not made public.
At about 0400 BST, the talks broke up without agreement.
Tony Blair has cancelled his planned trip on Thursday to the opening of the Scottish Parliament to stay in Belfast for further talks. These begin at 1200 BST.
Decision day timetable
This is how the day unfolded as the midnight deadline in the Northern Ireland peace talks loomed:
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