The United States says a U.N. resolution authorizing as many as 26,000 troops in Sudan's war-torn Dafur region will be finalized by Tuesday. Victoria Cavaliere reports for VOA's New York bureau that western countries have been pressing Sudan since last November to accept an expanded peacekeeping force for Darfur.

Last week, the co-sponsors of the resolution, Britain and France, dropped the threat of sanctions against Sudan after objections from China and the three African members of the Security Council - South Africa, the Republic of Congo, and Ghana.

The resolution would send up to 19,000 U.N. troops to help the undermanned, 7,000-troop African Union force in Darfur. U.N. officials estimate the four-year conflict has left more than 200,000 people dead, and two million more displaced.

The draft resolution leaves in place a mandate authorizing the use of force to protect U.N. troops and humanitarian workers. Sudan says it rejects that mandate.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad says getting a resolution passed is a top priority of the Security Council.

"We are very close," he said. "Our expectation is that the resolution will be finalized in the next 24 hours. There are still some discussions that need to take place, and capitals need to be consulted."

China, which holds veto power in the Security Council, said last week that it had concerns about the scope of the resolution. Beijing has strong oil interests in Sudan and had been a key proponent of dropping any economic penalty against Khartoum.

The expanded mission in Sudan is estimated to cost about two billion dollars in its first year. The resolution sets a target date of no later than December 31 to transfer authority from the African Union to a combined AU-U.N. force.