Senior leaders of the African National Congress and the rival Zulu movement Inkatha held their first high-level meeting in more than a decade in a bid to end a protracted and bloody conflict, it was announced Thursday.

A joint statement issued shortly after midnight said the delegations had held "exploratory" talks on "grave, vital and urgent matters" and that they agreed to meet again on Sept. 26. Wednesday night's secret talks were held at an unidentified Durban hotel.The meeting follows an intense flare-up in hostilities between the two movements in black townships surrounding Johannesburg that has left more than 750 people dead since early August and renewed calls for the two organizations to bury their differences.