The Taliban said on Sunday that it will send a delegation to Russia for a rare meeting with Afghan Opposition leaders, just days after peace talks with the U.S. that excluded the Kabul government.
The two-day sit-down in Moscow, starting on Tuesday, will be attended by some of President Ashraf Ghani’s chief political rivals, but none of the government envoys tasked with Taliban negotiations. Mr. Ghani has appealed to the insurgents to talk after being frozen out of six days of discussions between the Taliban and the U.S. in Doha last month that sealed the outlines of a peace deal.
“It shows the peak of depression, and begging to terrorists,” said Amrullah Saleh, who is running as Vice-President on Mr. Ghani’s ticket in elections slated for July.
Among those who have confirmed their attendance in Moscow is Haneef Atmar, who is running against Mr. Ghani in the elections. Former warlord Atta Muhammad Noor and former Afghan president Hamid Karzai — both Ghani rivals — are also attending.
A senior Taliban official said they would send a delegation, but described the meeting as non-political and “arranged by some organisations based in Moscow”.
The Russian Embassy in Kabul issued a statement late on Saturday on behalf of the “Afghan Society of Russia”. The group said it had invited “influential figures” to the dialogue in the President Hotel in Moscow.