President Bush said that the government of Sudan and southern-based rebels are negotiating in good faith. He said the talks must continue, and despite the slow going he will not impose sanctions on either side.

Under existing law, President Bush is required to report to congress every six months on the status of talks between the government in Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army.

The law, known as the Sudan Peace Act, instructs him to determine if the two sides are making good faith efforts to reach a peace agreement. It also gives the president authorization to impose sanctions on any party he determines is blocking a settlement.

U.S. officials have expressed frustration with the slow pace of the negotiations, which are being hosted by Kenya. However, in recent days they cast doubt Mr. Bush would move on sanctions.

The civil war between the Sudanese government and the southern rebels has gone on for more than two decades, claiming some two million lives.