Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre, buckling under the pressure of a six-day rebel onslaught, said Friday he was ready for peace talks and would accept any outcome.
"Whatever the outcome of peace negotiations the government will abide by it, including myself," state-run Radio Mogadishu quoted him as saying.Siad Barre had unsuccessfully appealed to the rebels twice in the past 48 hours to accept a cease-fire in the fighting on the streets of the capital, Mogadishu.
Rebels of the United Somali Congress said 2,000 people had been killed and 4,000 injured since the street battles erupted last weekend.
The USC, one of three main rebel groups fighting to oust Siad Barre, has treated his calls for a truce with contempt, vowing to rid the country of its ruler for the past 21 years.
It said it was about to deliver the final blow, but Italian officials denied the USC's claim that it had cornered Siad Barre in an underground bunker.
The Italian ambassador in Mogadishu said the president had not left his official residence, the Villa Somalia, since the fighting began, according to Italian diplomats in Nairobi.
Telex and telephone lines to the city have been cut for days and it was unclear whose forces had the upper hand.