United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is frustrated by the ongoing conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, but believes that progress is being made. As Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York Bureau, the Secretary-General also thinks that a long-awaited U.N.- African Union peacekeeping force will soon be in place in Darfur.

On Tuesday, the United States leveled tough new sanctions against Sudan for its continued stalling on an upgraded peacekeeping force in Darfur.

The conflict between ethnic Sudanese rebels and the government backed janjaweed militia has left more than 200,000 people dead and displaced some 2.5 million Sudanese.

But, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is appealing for more time in dealing with the conflict in Darfur-including placing a hybrid U.N. African Union peacekeeping force in the region.

After months of pressure, Sudan agreed in November to allow thousands of U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur to assist overwhelmed African Union forces already there.  But, Khartoum has since stalled on letting the peacekeepers in.

Last week, the two sides completed plans for a 23,000-member peacekeeping force, but the African Union has yet to formally submit the plan to Sudan. 

Mr. Ban says he has been frustrated by the delays, but says he believes Khartoum has made some positive steps recently.

"Please bear with me," he said.  "This process may be slow, painful, but I believe we are moving towards early resolution on this issue."

The United States and Britain say they are drafting a new U.N resolution that would impose stricter sanctions on Sudan.  Other Security Council members, including South Africa and Russia, have questioned the timing of the proposed resolution. Beijing says it opposes all further penalties on Khartoum.

Secretary Ban dismissed suggestions that countries should boycott the 2008 Olympic games in China over allegations Beijing is ignoring the bloodshed in Darfur.

"The Chinese government has been exerting their utmost efforts, as I understand and appreciate," he added.  "I have been discussing this matter with the Chinese government too. "

China has strong oil interests in Sudan and human rights groups have accused Beijing of doing too little to pressure Sudan to end the Darfur civil war.