VENICE, Italy -- President Reagan appeared to nod off during a 45-minute reading of the final economic summit declaration Thursday, but his spokesman insisted the president 'stayed awake the whole time.'
Reporters in the stuffy room noticed Reagan lowering his head often and appearing drowsy.
'He stayed awake the whole time, as opposed to many of his counterparts,' said spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.
But one official conceded, 'He was fighting it (sleep).'
The official, referring to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, joked, 'Yasu was real close' but 'the president beat the rap. He bested the other delegations.'
Reagan was pictured by a television camera Tuesday, the day after a three-hour opening summit dinner, yawning before the start of an afternoon session.
The president, 76, who follows a strict feast-and-famine diet to fight jet lag on foreign trips, dozed off during a statement by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1982 and appeared drowsy during a similar audience last Saturday.
He was seen taking a pill during the reading of the summit statement. Fitzwater said the pill is an antibiotic Reagan was taking as the result of having received an insect bite during a May 29-31 visit to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.