Historic peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban seeking to end 19 years of war have opened in Doha.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani opened the negotiations at a ceremony in a luxury Doha hotel, flanked by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Washington's Afghanistan special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

The Afghan government's chief negotiator Abdullah Abdullah called for a "humanitarian ceasefire" with the Taliban.

"We have to stop violence and agree on a ceasefire as soon as possible. We want a humanitarian ceasefire," said the former minister who chairs the High Council for National Reconciliation.

Mr Pompeo urged warring Afghan sides to seize the opportunity to strike a peace deal.

"The choice of your future political system is, of course, yours to make," he said, adding that he hoped the solution would protect the rights of all Afghans and protect social progress, including the presence of women in public life.

"I cannot strongly enough urge you, seize this opportunity", he added.