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India and China are set to hold their seventh round of military talks on Monday in yet another attempt to work out steps to preserve an uneasy truce amid the unprecedented tensions along the border between the two countries.

Analysts said expectations of a “breakthrough" were low with question marks over what could constitute a “breakthrough in the current circumstances", seen as a state of unprecedented tensions in decades. The thinking in some quarters was that a “breakthrough" would mean a restoration of status quo ante, that is China vacates the areas the People’s Liberation Army intruded into in May. The other view in New Delhi was that a restoration of status quo would mean India move back from some strategic positions it had taken in Ladakh on the banks of the Pangong Tso lake surprising the Chinese.

The Indian delegation will be led by Lt General Harinder Singh of the 14 Corps based in Leh, and include Lt General P.G.K. Menon who is expected to take over from Singh later this month. Besides, senior diplomat in charge of the China desk, Naveen Srivastava, who was part of the discussions with the Chinese on 21 September in Moldo, will also be part of team.

“I don’t expect any breakthrough in these talks," said Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He added that his expectations were “low" from this round of talks.

India’s objective will be to see that an “uneasy calm" that is in place since early September, is preserved. With winter approaching, there was a small window that China could exploit to surprise New Delhi and change the existing situation to their advantage. This is something India will try to prevent, he added. “Both sides are preparing for the long haul," he said referring to large-scale preparations by India and China to keep their militaries on the frontlines.

The India-China talks will coincide with a three-day visit to New Delhi of US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun starting Monday. Biegun’s visit follows close on the heels of a meeting of the “Quad" group which includes the US, Australia, India and Japan on 6 October in Tokyo.

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