Diplomacy: The 23rd round of boundary talks between Bhutan and China will be held in Thimphu today, according to a foreign affairs ministry press release.

An 11-member Chinese delegation led by foreign affairs vice minister, Liu Zhenmin, arrived in the country, yesterday.

The Bhutanese side will be led by foreign affairs minister, Damcho Dorji, and will include senior officials of the foreign ministry and the International Boundaries Secretariat.

The latest round of boundary talks follows two rounds of expert group meetings. The first meeting was held in Thimphu in October, last year, while the second one was held in Beijing in March, this year.

The 23rd round of boundary talks is most likely to concentrate on disputed areas in Western Bhutan.

The disputed areas include Dramana, Shakhatoe, Sinchulung, and Doklam, comprising a total of 269 sq km located in Haa and Paro.

In the state of the nation report delivered in June, the Prime Minister had pointed out that the first phase of the joint technical field survey of the disputed areas in the west had just been completed and that the second phase would be carried out within this year.

The Prime Minister had also said that he would be personally visiting the disputed areas. The Prime Minister pointed out in June, that he had visited the areas of Charithang, Sinchulumpa, Dramana, and Doklam.

The 22nd round of boundary talks, held in Wutai Shan, Shanxi province in China, in July last year endorsed the report of a joint technical field survey of Bayul Pasamlung in northern Bhutan.

Bayul Pasamlung had comprised of 496 sq km of disputed territory.

The 21st round of boundary talks were held in Thimphu.

The boundary negotiations between Bhutan and China are guided by the guiding principles agreed to in 1988, and the agreement on the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the Bhutan-China areas signed in 1998.

By Gyalsten K Dorji