10:32 GMT26 October 2020
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    KABUL (Sputnik) – Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal as well as former President Hamid Karzai, former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanuni and head of the People's Islamic Unity Party Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq have arrived for the 2nd Intra-Afghan Peace Conference in Moscow, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Zakhilwal told Sputnik.

    A 14-member Taliban delegation led by the group's co-founder, Mullah Baradar Akhund, has departed for Moscow from Qatar, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Sputnik.

    "The deputy leader of Islamic Emirate, Mullah Baradar Akhund, leading a high level delegation, left Qatar for Russia," the spokesman specified.

    "The [Taliban] delegation will also meet senior Russian officials," Mujahid added.

    The Intra-Afghan Peace Conference will follow the commemoration ceremony of the 100th anniversary of Afghan-Russian diplomatic relations later on Tuesday.

    A Russian official earlier said on condition of anonymity that Moscow would host a conference where both Afghan government and Taliban would hold direct talks for the first time. A source close to Taliban has confirmed the information.

    The first intra-Afghan conference on the peace settlement in the country was held in Moscow on February 5-6. It was attended by a number of Afghan politicians, representatives of Afghan diaspora in different countries and a Taliban delegation. The Afghan government’s delegation was absent from the talks, sending a three-member delegation of Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) instead. This time, HPC Chairman Karim Khalili will participate in the talks as the leader of the Islamic Unity Party, and not on behalf of the HPC, the council's spokesman, Ahmad Ghafoor Javid, noted.

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    Moscow will host a special meeting to mark the centennial of diplomatic relations with Kabul on Tuesday. The gathering at President-Hotel in the center of the Russian capital will bring together Russian Foreign Ministry officials, employees of the Afghan embassy in Moscow, Afghan politicians and experts. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to deliver a speech at the event's opening.

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