China is yet to confirm the dates for the fresh round of military talks, keeping New Delhi waiting and guessing.
Sources in the defence ministry said the Chinese side was yet to confirm the dates for the eighth round of corps commander level talks which were supposed to take place by the end of last week.
“The Chinese side has not yet confirmed the dates for the talks. We are still awaiting their response on this,” a defence ministry official said.
Both sides, he said, during the seventh round of talks on October 12 had agreed to continue the dialogue process for disengagement from the friction points in eastern Ladakh.
“We do not know why they have suddenly pressed a pause button on the fresh round of military talks and are not confirming the dates. The talks were supposed to be held last week but we are still awaiting confirmation from them,” the official said.
Sources in the Indian Army said a reminder was sent on Friday to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on finalising the date for the upcoming talks.
The studied silence from the Chinese side on fixing a date for the talks has triggered apprehension among the security establishment whether the Chinese troops have something up their sleeve and are acting according to some plan.
So far the seven rounds of military talks have failed to achieve any breakthrough and the Chinese troops continue to hold on to their positions inside Indian claimed lines — Pangong Lake, Hot Springs and Depsang Plains.
Military veterans have cautioned the army against any complacency, saying the Chinese often use negotiations to gain time and strengthen positions on the ground.
Both sides have amassed more men and machinery along the Line of Actual Control at 14,000ft and above to battle the harsh winter that has already set in eastern Ladakh.
Sources said the Indian side had been pressing for disengagement from the multiple friction points in eastern Ladakh where the Chinese troops have dug in inside India-claimed lines since May but the PLA troops have refused to pull back.
After the seventh round of talks, a joint statement issued by India and China had said: “Both sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible. Both sides agreed to earnestly implement the important understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries, not to turn differences into disputes, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”