The Presidential Years

President Nelson Mandela has met his main black rival, Zulu nationalist leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi in an attempt to end a walkout by Buthelezi's party from Parliament in a dispute over regional autonomy.

Mandela described the talks on Friday - which included Deputy President F.W. de Klerk - as "fruitful," but refused to say if they'd made any progress.

Seen by some as political gesturing, Inkatha's walkout caused concern because it might re-ignite violence between Mandela's supporters and Buthelezi's followers in the strife-torn KwaZulu / Natal Province.

The three leaders of the main parties reacted quickly to the political storm. Meeting in Cape Town, they reaffirmed their desire to find a peaceful solution to the row.