NEW DELHI, JULY 24 -- Top leaders of the Tamil guerrilla movement fighting the Sri Lankan government flew to New Delhi tonight amid reports that an agreement is near to end the civil war that has cost nearly 6,000 lives in the past four years.

India and Sri Lanka have reached an accord on the outlines of a peace plan, according to diplomatic sources in the Indian capital and news agency reports from Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital.

{In Washington, a spokesman for the Sri Lankan Embassy confirmed that an accord had been reached and that Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi would fly to Colombo in the next 10 days to sign the pact.

{A State Department official said it appeared that "an agreement is imminent" and that the signs were "very encouraging." A spokesman for the Indian Embassy said he was aware of reports of an accord but declined to comment.

{Sri Lankan Embassy press counselor Naren Chitty, quoting reports from the official news agency Lanka Puvath, said the accord was announced Friday night by Cabinet minister Gamini Dissanayake, a participant in the peace negotiations. Dissanayake reported that agreement had been reached on all major points and that the few remaining points of contention would be "resolved before dawn."}

Tamil guerrilla leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, whose objections have caused previous peace negotiations to collapse, and his aides were flown to New Delhi by the Indian Air Force, which reportedly sent a helicopter to the Jaffna Peninsula, the embattled Tamil stronghold in northern Sri Lanka, to pick him up.

India and Sri Lanka reportedly have been close to agreement on a peace accord before, only to see it founder when the Tamil guerrillas apparently refused to go along. The new proposal, however, appears to concede a primary Tamil demand previously rejected by the Sri Lankan government that the predominantly Tamil north and the east, which is about one-third Tamil, be joined into a single province.

The fact that Sri Lanka allowed the Indian helicopter to fly to Jaffna to pick up the Tamil leaders was an indication of the degree to which the two countries are in accord this time. In early June, India used fighter jets to escort planes delivering relief supplies to the Jaffna region after Sri Lanka refused to allow India to deliver supplies by sea.

Sri Lanka's Tamils are mostly Hindus who have close ties to the Tamil population of southern India. They have been fighting Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhist, for an independent state or a greater measure of local autonomy.

In an occasionally shifting policy, India has provided safe haven for Tamil guerrillas. At times, India has been reported to have given them arms and training -- something Indian officials have consistently denied.

India's high commissioner to Sri Lanka, J.N. Dixit, who has played a major role in recent negotiations, also flew to New Delhi today after meeting with Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayawardene on details of the proposed agreements, according to news agency reports.

Prabhakaran, leader of the most militant and powerful guerrilla group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, reportedly is to meet with Gandhi on Saturday, but it remains unclear how hard the Indians are prepared to press to win guerrilla approval for the accord.

Indian diplomats reportedly have outlined the agreement to lower-level Tamil leaders and won their approval during recent visits to Jaffna, but Prabhakaran has not been heard from.

During a brief stopover in Madras today, Prabakharan indicated that his group may not yet be ready to approve the proposed accord.

"Only after meeting with Prime Minister Gandhi will I think about starting negotiations on the draft proposals," he was quoted as saying.

In a "message" to the Tamils of Sri Lanka issued in Madras, Prabhakaran called the Delhi meetings a "very, very important" chapter in their history.

"The whole world knows that the Tamils have been cheated for the past 30 years by successive Sri Lankan government. Now the Tamils have a leadership capable of achieving their goals."

The guerrillas have sought a withdrawal of Army troops from positions won in recent offensives on the Jaffna Peninsula and want police powers in the predominantly Tamil area while any accord is implemented.