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Taliban Say They Are Negotiating A Transfer Of Power In Kabul

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're following rapid developments in Afghanistan today. The Taliban have entered Kabul. President Ashraf Ghani has left. The remaining U.S. Embassy staff in the capital is now sheltering in place because - at the airport is reportedly, quote, "taking fire."

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

That's according to a statement on the embassy website. We are joined now by - from Kabul by journalist Ali Latifi. Welcome to the program.

ALI LATIFI: Thank you.

KEITH: You have been with us all morning, which is all night for you. And we know that it's nighttime there and that you're not at the airport, but it would seem that any attack on the airport would thwart the Taliban's claims that this is a peaceful transfer of power.

LATIFI: Yes. We don't know if those reports have been confirmed yet, so...

KEITH: Fair.

LATIFI: Yeah.

KEITH: Negotiations are being carried out. We're told that there is now a coordinating council. What can you tell us about that body?

LATIFI: So Dr. Abdullah, who is the head of the reconciliation commission in Afghanistan - he has been taking a leading role in this. And they are basically trying to figure out - there have been reports of different incarnations of a potential Cabinet or potential new government system floating around all day. So at this point, they're really trying to come up with a system that would please as many people as possible because now that they've brought the Taliban into the fold, they also can't lose the support that certain institutions and certain figures and certain systems had here within the last 20 years. And so they really have to make sure that it's not just the Taliban or not just these Democrats. It has to somehow be a blend, and that's not an easy thing to balance.

KEITH: Certainly not at a moment where - when there is this much chaos. And the last time the Taliban were in control, they ruled brutally. Are people concerned about what having the Taliban in the fold will mean for people in Afghanistan?

LATIFI: Of course. But I think that's why it's so important to have as much information possible about what this new system will look like, who will play what role and then to see how the Taliban start behaving starting tomorrow. You know, when people step out of their houses, when they try to go to work, when they try to go to school, will they have to change the way they dress? Will they have to - you know, will they have to change anything about their lives, or can they just go about their business for the most part?

KEITH: That is a very big question, one that we don't yet have the answer to. Just for - with the little bit of time that we have left, what is it like there tonight? Is it quiet, or are you hearing helicopters and other noise?

LATIFI: I mean, we've been hearing helicopters for the last two nights and - all night, all through the night. And we've heard some celebratory gunfire earlier, but other than that, it's still quiet.

KEITH: Other than that. That's journalist Ali Latifi in Kabul. Thank you so much for speaking with us again.

LATIFI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.