President F.W. de Klerk lifted a 52-month-old state of emergency in strife-torn Natal province and said the concession opens the way to negotiations with the black opposition.

De Klerk, citing an improvement in security, Thursday unconditionally ended the emergency rule in the Indian Ocean province of Natal where bloody clashes between supporters of the African National Congress and in Zulu movement Inkatha have left as many as 4,000 dead since 1987."The door to (negotiations) is now fully open and I am appealing to all leaders and all South Africans to accept the challenge of this open door," de Klerk told a news conference in Pretoria.