Top Joint Liaison Group negotiators are holding last-minute talks on next year's handover ceremony before Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind and his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen , meet in New York tonight. The South China Morning Post understands that Hugh Davies and Zhao Jihua have held daily meetings this week on the issue. Officials were yesterday silent on the substance of the talks and were careful to not play up expectations of the New York meeting. A source close to the talks said the sides still differed over 'some organisational points', but refused to elaborate. However, he said there were 'no problems about the scale of the ceremony or the personalities involved'. Mr Davies said at the end of last week's Joint Liaison Group plenum he was 'cautiously optimistic' about a final agreement in New York. Another source said last night this remained the case and progress had been made. It is understood that Britain has told Beijing Chris Patten will not be the 'senior officiating guest' at the ceremony. The source said Britain was keen to reach a detailed agreement on the issue, covering its scale, venue and final arrangements. 'We want the right agreement, not just a quick deal,' he said. Mr Patten said there should not be any trouble with a ceremony that was solemn and dignified and suitable to the occasion. 'People don't want to see triumphalism on either side and I don't think they want to see a breakdown over the issue. They would like to see us getting on with things in a sensible way,' he said. Also on the agenda for the meeting will be Britain's opposition to the provisional legislature. Mr Rifkind is likely to take a tough line, warning China against another legislature running parallel with the present body.