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New Delhi: India and China are expected to finalize a mechanism for managing their undemarcated border during the ongoing meeting between the representatives of the two sides in New Delhi, a government offical said on condition of anonymity.

Resolving disputes: Shivshankar Menon (right) with Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo in New Delhi on Monday. By PTI

Territorial disputes have been a major irritant in bilateral relations between the two nations and led to brief but bitter war in 1962.

The two-day talks, which started on Monday, were rescheduled for this month, after being called off in November when India refused to accede to a Chinese demand to cancel an international Buddhism conference in New Delhi that the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was supposed to attend.

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Mint’s Elizabeth Roche says the 15th round of India-China border talks are expected to yield some results, Dai Bingguo setting a positive tone

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The current round of talks were significant for several reasons, said Rup Narayan Das, senior fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

“The first is both sides will be looking at concluding a mechanism to establish direct communication to ensure greater coordination for better border management," Das said, referring to a new structure—suggested by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during his December 2010 visit to India—that will be headed by officials of the ministry of external affairs, but will include the military and other arms of government.

The new mechanism being worked out along with agreements signed in 1993, 1996 and 2005 were aimed at stabilizing the border and “the eventual solution of the border dispute", Das said.

Countless rounds of talks to settle the dispute between the two sides have not resulted in the demarcation of the frontier. As it stands, China claims 90,000 sq. km of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and occupies around 38,000 sq. km in Jammu and Kashmir, which India claims as its territory. Also, under the China—Pakistan “boundary agreement signed in March 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq. km of Indian territory in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) to China", foreign minister S.M. Krishna told Parliament two years ago. In a recent statement, Menon had described the boundary question as a “difficult issue" that has remained unsolved.

The current round of talks was also important because “this will probably be the last meeting in which Dai will participate as special envoy on the border talks ahead of the Chinese leadership change", Das said, referring to the top Communist Party of China leadership overhaul next year. President Hu Jintao is expected to be replaced in 2013 by Xi Jinping, vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission. India is keen to hold a dialogue on the border ahead of Hu’s visit to India in March for the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) meeting. “A meeting between Hu and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on the cards when the Chinese President comes," said a person close to the development.

Ahead of Monday’s talks, Dai who has been China’s special envoy for the border talks since 2003, struck a positive note speaking of China’s desire for friendly ties. “Our Indian friends may have confidence in China’s tremendous sentiment of friendship towards India. While working hard to develop itself, China is fully committed to developing long-term friendship and cooperation with India," Dai wrote in an article in The Hindu newspaper published on Monday.

“There does not exist such a thing as China’s attempt to ‘attack India’ or ‘suppress India’s development.’ China will remain committed to the path of peaceful development," he said.

elizabeth.r@livemint.com

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