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SOURCE: The Tribune

Two months since the last round of military-level talks between India and China, positions have more or less hardened, with no ‘forward movement’ on even deciding the date for conducting the next round of talks.

“There is no common ground for now, both sides have not changed their stance,” said a senior functionary, adding that so far no dates had been agreed upon to conduct the ninth round of Lt General-level talks. The last round was conducted on November 6. Troops of either side are within rifle-shot range of each other, while both sides have lined up tanks, artillery guns, rocket launchers, missiles and thousands of troops along the 826-km Line of Actual (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.

It was on December 18 that the 20th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was conducted. It was “agreed to hold the next (ninth) round of Senior Army Commanders meeting at an early date so that both sides can work towards early and complete disengagement of troops along the LAC,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had then said. The WMCC decided that both sides would continue to work towards ensuring complete disengagement at all friction points along the LAC at the earliest.

Sources said since then there has been no development to decide on the dates for military commander-level talks. The two sides have been discussing over the hotline. However, there is no formal agreement. Severe winter has set in as night temperatures are dropping to minus 40 degrees Celsius. Between June and November 6, the two sides conducted eight rounds of military commander-level talks at location in Eastern Ladakh.

It was after the sixth round of talks on September 21 that the two sides agreed not to add any more troops along the frontline.