Russia has quietly invited a group of senior Afghan politicians to Moscow for talks with the Taliban in Moscow, bypassing President Ashraf Ghani’s government.
Reports however stated that the move has drawn protests from officials in Kabul who said it could muddle the U.S.-backed peace process.
The invitations, extended over the past two months by Russian diplomats in Kabul, were confirmed to Reuters by six of the eight leaders.
The invited Afghan politicians include former President Hamid Karzai, or their aides, and other leading politicians with ties to the Afghan government.
The Russian Embassy in Kabul, however, declined to comment on the report.
In August, Russia proposed holding multilateral peace talks in Moscow and invited 12 countries and the Taliban to attend a summit the following month.
But the meeting was postponed after President Ghani rejected the invitation on the grounds that talks with the Taliban should be led by the Afghan government.
The U. S. had also declined to attend. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined to comment further.
Three senior Afghan officials said the government was unhappy that Moscow was pressing ahead with plans for talks.
“We requested Russia to cancel the summit because talking to the Taliban at multiple forums will further complicate the peace process backed by the U.S., but they rejected the request,” said a senior Afghan official.
The official has been holding discussions with Russia.
Diplomatic engagement between the Taliban and the United States gained momentum in October, after U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met Taliban leaders in Qatar.