The first peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have begun in the Gulf state of Qatar, after months of delay.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the meeting “historic” as he flew to Doha for the opening ceremony.

The talks were due to start after a US-Taliban security deal in February.

But disagreements over a controversial prisoner swap stalled the next stage, as did violence in Afghanistan, where four decades of war are at a stalemate.

A delegation of leading Afghans left Kabul for Doha on Friday – 11 September, the day 19 years ago of the deadly attacks on the US which led to the end of Taliban rule.

The head of the delegation, Abdullah Abdullah, said they were seeking “a just and dignified peace”.

Mr Pompeo told the conference on Saturday the US believed protecting everyone’s rights in Afghanistan “is the best way for you to break the cycle of violence”, and urged delegates to act “not only for this generation of Afghans but for future generations”.

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