Wolfowitz said to be discussing departure

Published May 17, 2007

WASHINGTON - Embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz sought a face-saving agreement Wednesday that would allow him to resign under his own terms and escape some blame for the conflict of interest involving his girlfriend's generous pay deal, the Associated Press reported.

The negotiations, disclosed by officials familiar with them, took place as the bank's board deliberated Wolfowitz's fate.

The board's meeting ended Wednesday without a resolution. Deliberations were to resume this morning.

Wolfowitz wanted the bank to accept some responsibility for the conflicts cited by a special bank committee, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. It was not clear whether the board would agree to Wolfowitz's terms.

Pressure on Wolfowitz to resign has grown since release of the panel's report Monday regarding his handling of the 2005 pay package of bank employee Shaha Riza. Wolfowitz has maintained that he acted in good faith.

European members - led by France, Germany and the Netherlands - are pushing for Wolfowitz to resign.