India and China on Monday began talks to put in place a mechanism for management of the border between the two nations, an issue that has been an irritant in bilateral relations.
National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon led the Indian team at the 15th round of the Special Representatives meeting with the Chinese delegation led by State Councillor Dai Bingguo in New Delhi.
The meeting was to be held in November last year but had to be postponed after China protested Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's participation in the Global Buddhist Congregation in the capital around the time of the talks.
India had then rejected China's demand for cancellation of the congregation leading to the postponement of the talks.
Dai and Menon are expected to discuss putting in place a mechanism for border management mooted by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to India in 2010.
A decision to set up the mechanism was taken at a meeting Wen had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Sanya in April 2011.
Recently, Menon had termed the boundary question as a "difficult issue" that has remained unsolved. "On the settlement itself, we are in the second stage of the three stage process of agreeing principles, a framework and finally a boundary line," he had said.
The dialogue at the level of SRs is a three-stage process that started in 2005 with the declaration of the Guiding Principles and Political Parameters.
The second stage is 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," sources had said.
The 14th round of talks had taken place in Beijing in November, 2010.
The SR mechanism was established in 2003, when Menon was India's ambassador to Beijing.