Muammar Gaddafi is ready for a truce to stop the fighting in his country, the visiting South African president said after meeting the Libyan ruler, but he listed familiar Gaddafi conditions that have scuttled previous cease-fire efforts.
Rebels quickly rejected the offer.
South African President Jacob Zuma said Gaddafi is ready to accept an African Union initiative for a cease-fire that would stop all hostilities, including Nato airstrikes in support of rebel forces.
"He is ready to implement the road map," Mr Zuma said.
Mr Zuma said Gaddafi insists that "all Libyans be given a chance to talk among themselves" to determine the country's future.
He did not say Gaddafi is ready to step down, which is the central demand of the rebels. He was speaking to reporters from South African and Libyan TV, which broadcast his remarks late on Monday.
In April, Mr Zuma led a delegation of the African Union to Tripoli with an AU proposal for a truce.
Gaddafi said he would accept the truce but quickly ignored it and resumed his attacks, while the rebels rejected the cease-fire out of hand because it did not include Gaddafi's exit from power. Since then many cease-fire efforts have failed for similar reasons.
In Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, rebel Foreign Minister Fathi Baja rejected the African Union plan. "We refuse completely, we don't consider it a political initiative, it is only some stuff that Gaddafi wants to announce to stay in power," he said.
He said he believes Mr Zuma was in Tripoli to negotiate an exit strategy for Gaddafi, though Mr Zuma's office denies that. Mr Baja also said the rebels would launch an offensive against Gaddafi soon.