South African President Jacob Zuma announced that Muammar Gaddafi has accepted an African Union proposal for a "cease fire roadmap" with the rebels.
Few details of the plan have been given and the delegation is now off to Benghazi to try and get the rebels to sign on. This is very doubtful - as long as NATO keeps bombing Gaddafi's forces.
"The brother leader delegation has accepted the roadmap as presented by us. We have to give ceasefire a chance," Zuma said, adding that the African delegation would now travel to the eastern city of Benghazi for talks with anti-Gaddafi rebels.
NATO stepped up attacks on Gaddafi's armor on Sunday to weaken the bitter siege of Misrata in the west and disrupt a dangerous advance by Gaddafi's troops in the east.
The alliance said it destroyed 11 tanks on the outskirts of the eastern rebel town of Ajdabiyah, which looked in danger of being overrun on Sunday, and 14 near Misrata, a lone insurgent bastion in the west that has been under siege for six weeks.
There was no sign of any let-up in the fighting and despite the African leaders' peace roadmap hopes of a negotiated settlement looked slim.
A rebel spokesman rejected a deal with Gaddafi to end the conflict, bloodiest in a series of pro-democracy revolts across the Arab world that have ousted the autocratic leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.
The longer this war goes on, the bigger chance that NATO will lose world support for its actions. But as long as they apply air power only, it is unlikely that Gaddafi, who appears buoyed by his army's performance as well as his inner circle staying with him, will relent and give NATO a cheap victory.