New Delhi: India and China are set to hold the 15th round of boundary talks in New Delhi in mid-January after these were deferred following the Chinese objection to the Dalai Lama speaking at an international Buddhist conference in Delhi. The two sides are also expected to sign a landmark border mechanism to curb incidents of intrusion.
Both sides are working on the dates, said government sources.
India's special representative, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, will hold talks with China's special representative, the influential state councillor Dai Bingguo, to resolve the decades-old boundary dispute.
The two sides are now in the second stage of boundary negotiations which entails evolving a framework for delineating the border. The second stage is proving to be "the most difficult part" of negotiations as it will form the basis on which the new boundary will be fixed, said the sources.
During Dai's visit, the two sides are also expected to sign a landmark border mechanism that seeks to establish a direct contact between New Delhi and Beijing in case of intrusions or incidents resulting from misperceptions arising from the Line of Actual Control.
Existing arrangements under the peace and tranquility agreement between the countries currently act as communication channels between local commanders.
The two sides have already negotiated the agreement, which was initiated after a political understanding was reached between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in April at Sanya, in China, on the margins of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit.
After the boundary talks, scheduled November 28-29, were deferred at the last minute as India refused to give in to the Chinese demand that Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama not be allowed to participate in the Global Buddhist Conference, which was also planned around that time.
When India refused to budge on this count, the Chinese demanded the cancellation of the conference, which also was not acceptable to New Delhi.
At that time, India had firmly conveyed to China its oft-reiterated position that the Dalai Lama was a spiritual leader and an honoured guest and was, therefore, free to speak on spiritual matters.
Subsequently, both sides decided not to let the incident affect the broader relationship, leading to the holding of the annual defence dialogue on December 9, as planned earlier, and setting the stage for the revival of boundary negotiations.