Opposition leaders who now control much of eastern Libya have rejected overtures to enter into negotiations unless Muammar Gaddafi steps down and departs into exile.

There were reports that Gaddafi instructed one of his intelligence chief to negotiate with the rebels.

The Benghazi-based National Libyan Council also asked for foreign intervention to prevent air strikes on rebel bases by Gaddafi-backed troops.

In addition, the U.S. and France have rejected an offer by Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to help mediate the deepening crisis.

Chavez, one of Gaddafi’s few allies, offered to form an international peace mission to attempt to end the violence in Libya and find a peaceful compromise.

I hope we can create a commission that goes to Libya to talk with the government and the opposition leaders, Chavez said. We want a peaceful solution ... We support peace in the Arab world and in the whole world.

Chavez added that it would be better to find a political solution instead of sending marines to Libya, and better to send a goodwill mission than for the killing to continue.

Instead, both US President Barack Obama and Philip Crowley, spokesman for the US State Department's spokesman, repeated calls for Gaddafi to step down.

Going forward, we will continue to send a clear message: the violence must stop, Obama said. Moammar Gaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead and he must leave.

You don't need an international commission to tell Colonel Gaddafi what he needs to do for the good of his country and the good of his people, Crowley told reporters.

Similarly, France’s foreign minister Alain Juppe said any mediation that allows Colonel Gaddafi to succeed himself is obviously not welcome.”

Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head of National Libyan Council and the country’s former Interior Minister, told Al Jazeera that he dismissed even the concept of talks with Gaddafi, and said he was not contacted about the Venezuelan initiative.

If there is any negotiation it will be on one single thing - how Gaddafi is going to leave the country or step down so we can save lives. There is nothing else to negotiate, Ahmed Jabreel, a spokesman for Abdel-Jalil, told Reuters.

However, Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, said his group will examine the proposal.

Meanwhile, Libya faces the grim prospects of a political stalemate and a bloody civil war.