JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A long-anticipated summit between leaders of the South African government, the African National Congress (ANC) and the Zulu people ended late last night with this country no closer to finding a solution to its escalating violence.
Trying to put a good face on what had clearly been a frustrating seven hours of talks, President F. W. de Klerk, ANC President Nelson Mandela, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini told a news conference that their main conclusion was that yet another committee would be established to examine the issues.
That committee is to report back by Thursday with the possibility of another summit next week. But with the country's first nonracial election less than three weeks away, the possibility of substantially reducing bloodshed before the vote seems small.
"I should like to warn that we should have no exaggerated expectations of what this task group is likely to achieve," Mr. Mandela said after the meeting, held at a remote camp in a game park east of Johannesburg.
Both Mr. Buthelezi, who heads KwaZulu, the Zulu homeland in Natal province, and King Goodwill have called for a boycott of the April 26-28 vote, a decision that has escalated the battles in black areas between supporters of Inkatha and the ANC, which is favored to win the election.
Last week, Mr. de Klerk declared a state of emergency in the KwaZulu/Natal region that is home to most of South Africa's 7 million Zulus, but the increase in military presence has done little to stop the killings. More than 100 have died since that pronouncement.
The violence has caused many to doubt that elections in the KwaZulu/Natal region can be free and fair, but election officials have expressed their determination to go ahead with the vote.
Postponement of the election was high on Mr. Buthelezi's
agenda yesterday, but both Mr. de Klerk and Mr. Mandela have expressed their opposition to that and nothing they heard yesterday seemed to change that.
The meeting began with a one-on-one session between Mr. Mandela and King Goodwill, the first time the 75-year-old political leader and 45-year-old king had met.
Mr. Mandela offered a guarantee that the king's position as monarch would be guaranteed in the constitution of the KwaZulu/Natal region. While this was substantially accepted by the negotiators, the king still would not call on his subjects to take part in the election.
In prepared statements, the king only condemned the killing of eight Zulus outside of ANC headquarters in Johannesburg last week and called on Zulu "freedom fighters" to restore the Zulu kingdom.
While Mr. Buthelezi has not distanced himself from the king's call for a Zulu kingdom, his demands have centered on amending the country's interim constitution to provide greater local powers for regions.