India and China are looking at ways to bring boundary talks back on track before Chinese president Hu Jintao visits India on March 29 for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India China, South Africa) summit.
India is keen on making Hu's visit an "important bilateral event". But China insists that without a "substantial" agenda, there is no point in extending the president's stay.
China's sourness stems from the derailment of the border talks in November. The dates of the talks - November 28, 29 -were clashing with a Buddhist conference in Delhi, in which the Dalai Lama was to give the valedictory address.
China had insisted on the cancellation of the Buddhist conference, which India had refused.
Partly to salvage the situation and boost ties, external affairs minister SM Krishna will visit China in February. He would meet his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and their discussions are likely to lay the groundwork of the agenda for Hu's visit.
It is expected that engaging China on the border issue will make the process smoother. "The dates for the boundary talks will be in place soon and it is expected to take place before March 29," said a senior government official.
The coming round of border talks will presumably be the last under the present dispensation in Beijing.
In November, Chinese special representative Dai Bingguo was to meet national security advisor Shivshankar Menon and follow up on their talks held in Beijing in November 2010.
Both sides were also about to announce a new mechanism to ensure that Beijing and New Delhi deal with the incidents across the Line of Actual Control directly. Currently such incidents are dealt with at the local level.