South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is holding direct talks with embattled President Jacob Zuma over a transfer of power.
Mr Ramaphosa, who heads South Africa’s governing party, said both he and Mr Zuma understood the need for a speedy resolution.
He said the pair aim to conclude talks on the president’s future within days.
It is being seen as the first confirmation that Mr Zuma will step down shortly.
The 75-year-old president is facing extensive corruption charges after a turbulent nine years in power.
He has faced increasing pressure to quit since December, when Mr Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Mr Ramaphosa said direct talks were an opportunity to reach an agreement without spreading discord or division.
The ANC said they had been “fruitful and constructive discussions”.
An urgent Wednesday evening meeting of the party’s top leadership – which has the power to unseat Mr Zuma – has been pushed back to 17 February.
Opposition parties are demanding a vote of no-confidence to remove the president.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has also urged him to step down.
South Africa had seen “systematic looting” under Mr Zuma’s rule, and he “must go sooner rather than later”, it said in a statement.
How has parliament reacted?
On Tuesday, South Africa’s parliament took the extraordinary step of postponing Thursday’s state of the nation address.
The address is always made by the sitting president, and is the political event of the year in South Africa.
Parliament cancelled it out of concern over “calls for disruption”, according to Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete.
Mr Zuma’s office said in a statement that “the president has requested the postponement due to certain developments”.