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The Latest On The Taliban's Advancement In Kabul

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Taliban have reached Kabul, Afghanistan's capital and the only major city under government control.

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

A Taliban spokesman says negotiations are underway for what they call a peaceful transfer of power. We're joined now from Kabul by journalist Ali Latifi. Welcome to the program.

ALI LATIFI: Thank you.

KEITH: The Taliban claim they're standing by just outside of Kabul. Is that true? What are you seeing on the streets of Kabul right now?

LATIFI: Yes, they haven't made it into the city. There were reports that - for instance, there were reports that they made it into the west side of the city, near the zoo and a famous roundabout. But when I asked residents in that area here, they said, no, it's not true. They're not here. They are at the district very close to Kabul, at, you know, what would be considered the gates to Kabul. But the Taliban have said that they've instructed them not to come into the city yet and not to use force, and so far it does seem that way.

KEITH: All right. Well, what has the official communication been like today? We've been hearing a lot from a Taliban spokesman, but what about the government? Do you have any clarity about what's going on?

LATIFI: The government has been quiet for the last week. You know, if you - as you said earlier, the majority of the nation's provinces at this point, if not all of the provinces, are under Taliban control technically, and the government has never admitted to the falling of any of these provinces, has never commented on it. Even when the president did make a pre-recorded address yesterday where he could be - it seemed like he was reading from a teleprompter, he never brought up the fallen provinces, never admitted to it, never, you know, said why they fell, how they fell, just said that they will continue to fight and protect.

And yet, as of last night, the two biggest major cities that were remaining fell as well, and several other provinces also fell. So people are - you know, the leadership, the - you know, the quote, unquote, "Democratic" or "elected" leadership has been entirely quiet. You know, a couple of weeks ago, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense was constantly on TV and on Twitter and on Facebook posting things, and he's been largely quiet for at least a few days now. And so many of these officials have been reported to have fled the country already, especially those with more than one passport.

KEITH: We are short on time, but the Taliban has been saying that they're working out some sort of peaceful transfer of power. Do you have any idea what's happening with that or whether residents of Kabul would be OK with that?

LATIFI: I think it depends on what that structure would look like, but the negotiations are underway right now, and so I think we would have to wait and see, you know, what it actually looks like to know how people will feel about it.

KEITH: Journalist Ali Latifi, thank you so much for speaking with us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.