Talks are to be held after the Lunar New Year on the transfer of fugitives between Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The news follows a meeting between Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Guangzhou Provincial Justice Department head Wang Xudong in Guangzhou yesterday. Mrs Ip said the two sides agreed on the need for formal arrangements on fugitives as soon as possible. 'We are both very positive and hope to have statutory arrangements and formal regulations soon to reduce further misunderstanding,' she said. Controversy over the issue was sparked after 'Big Spender' Cheung Tze-keung was tried and executed in Guangzhou this month for smuggling firearms and plotting kidnapping. It was argued the SAR should have had jurisdiction because some of his crimes were committed in Hong Kong. Without giving details of the talks, Mrs Ip said views on three areas - the transfer of fugitives, mutual legal assistance on criminal matters and the transfer of convicts - had been discussed. She said it would take at least two or three years to reach final agreement. 'We are now in the exploratory stage only and it is too early to talk about the final package. In formulating an arrangement with the mainland, we will, of course, take into account views expressed by legislators and the public.' She said Legco would be consulted after discussions were complete. Any proposal would have to be supported by the public before it could be passed, Mrs Ip said. She was not optimistic other gangsters involved in the Big Spender case who were serving sentences on the mainland would be transferred to Hong Kong soon. 'That, I'm afraid, will have to wait until we have reached agreements and related legislation is passed. All Hong Kong people serving sentences on the mainland will be considered if they qualify,' she said. Asked whether the two sides had sorted out problems arising from differences over the death penalty, Mrs Ip said she had expressed the SAR's concern and the mainland understood it well. Mrs Ip also visited Beijing, where she met the Minister of Public Security Jia Chunwang, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Director Liao Hui and officials from the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.