A Khmer Rouge leader said Wednesday the cornered Maoist rebels had sent a peace proposal to the Cambodian government, but a top Phnom Penh official quickly dismissed the offer as "worthless."

"We have sent a three-point peace proposal to the Phnom Penh government a few days ago and are optimistic the government will take it into consideration," Khmer Rouge commander General Khem Ngun told Reuters."Our first condition is to bring about national reconciliation where all parties announce an end to war which no one has won, no one has lost," he said from his jungle base in northern Cambodia.

In Phnom Penh, Defense Minister Tea Banh said there was no sub-stance to the rebels' proposal and expressed scepticism at their claim that Khmer Rouge military strongman Ta Mok had retired.

"It's only talk; it's worthless," Tea Banh told Reuters.

Asked if he believed Ta Mok had really retired, Tea Banh laughed and said, "Go and ask them again."

The Khmer Rouge has been crippled by a mass defections to the government in recent weeks. Former Khmer Rouge chief Pol Pot died last week in the shrinking zone they control in northern Cambodia.

A military official in the Cambodian town of Siem Reap said Wednesday the government was sending one ton of ammunition to government troops battling the remnants of the Khmer Rouge forces near the Thai border.