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SA leaders meeting to talk peace

JOHANNESBURG - Nelson Mandela and Mangosuthu Buthelezi, presidents of the African National Congress and the Inka tha Freedom Party respectively, are to meet this morning in Johannesburg amid expectations of peace, tempered by news from Natal that at least 34 people have died in political violence since Friday, writes John Carlin.

Most victims were ANC supporters. 'This has been a pattern of violence since September 1990: the violence flares up in the run-up to a major step forward in the negotiating process,' the ANC said.

The step forward is the formal announcement of an election date, expected on Friday. But the ANC said it meant to press on with today's meeting, the first between the two leaders since January 1991.

The encounter is the result of intense pressure on South Africa's two main black leaders from all quarters. Mr Mandela, who has developed an intense dislike for Chief Buthelezi, had to be persuaded to attend by colleagues in the national executive. He also has a perception that the encounter will achieve little: the last one yielded much peace rhetoric but next to no substance.