NEW DELHI: The fresh round of India-China Special Representative talks, which were postponed in November after the Chinese protested the Dalai Lama’s scheduled participation in a programme here, will now be held on January 16-17 in the capital.
In a statement issued Saturday, the Ministry of External Affairs said the Indian delegation to the talks will be led by National Security Advisor Mr Shivshankar Menon while the Chinese delegation will be led by State Councillor Mr Dai Bingguo.
“In addition to discussions on the India-China boundary question, the two sides will hold discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the ministry said.
The 15th round of talks between the Special Representatives of India and China were to be held on November 28-29, 2011 in New Delhi but were postponed after the Chinese demanded that the Global Buddhist Congregation being held here from November 28 be cancelled as Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was scheduled to address it.
The Chinese are first said to have asked for the Dalai Lama’s address to be cancelled and when New Delhi refused to oblige, they demanded that the event itself be cancelled, sources said.
New Delhi is believed to have told Beijing that India is a democratic country and there was no restriction on freedom of speech. Hence, China’s demand could not be met. Dalai Lama is a persona non grata with the Chinese government.
The 14th round of talks had taken place in Beijing in November, 2010.
Beijing is stated to have conveyed to New Delhi in November that talks cannot be simultaneously held when the Dalai Lama was addressing a conference in Delhi, to which the Indian side said that let fresh dates be worked out.
After China called off the talks, Ministry of External Affairs had issued a terse statement, “We are looking forward to the 15th round of SRs talks in the near future and the two sides remain in touch to find convenient dates for the meeting.”
Mr Dai and Mr Menon are expected to discuss putting in place a mechanism for border management mooted by Chinese Premier Mr Wen Jiabao during his visit to India in 2010.
A decision to set up the mechanism was taken at a meeting Mr Wen had with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at Sanya in April 2011.
The dialogue at the level of SRs is a three-stage process which started in 2005 with the declaration of the Guiding Principles and Political Parameters.
The second stage was identifying the framework for resolution of the boundary dispute and the third stage to apply that framework.
The second and the third stages are the “hardest” part of the negotiations and efforts are underway to conclude these,” the sources had said. The SR mechanism was established in 2003, when Mr Menon was India’s ambassador to Beijing.