WASHINGTON – Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is negotiating an agreement to resign, one official familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. But a source close to Wolfowitz told FOX News that he "is not going to resign while this cloud remains over his head."
His departure would include an acknowledgment from the bank that he doesn't bear sole responsibility for the controversy surrounding a generous pay package for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, the official told the AP.
Wolfowitz's future as World Bank president rests with the 24 board members who are trying to resolve conflict-of-interest charges that have roiled the poverty-fighting institution.
The board planned to resume deliberations Thursday.
Wolfowitz wants a face-saving deal that would allow him to resign under his own terms and escape some blame for the furor involving his girlfriend's compensation.
Pressure on Wolfowitz to step down has grown since Monday's release of a bank panel report in his handling of the 2005 pay package for Riza.
Riza worked for the bank before Wolfowitz took over as president in June 2005. She was moved to the State Department to avoid a conflict of interest, but stayed on the bank's payroll.
Her salary went from close to $133,000 to $180,000. With subsequent raises, it eventually rose to $193,590.
The bank panel concluded that the salary increase Riza received "at Mr. Wolfowitz's direction was in excess of the range" allowed under bank rules.
The panel said Wolfowitz "placed himself in a conflict of interest situation" when he became involved in the terms and details of Riza's assignment and pay package and "he should have withdrawn from any decision-making in the matter."
Wolfowitz contends he acted in good faith.
The 185-nation World Bank, created in 1945 to rebuild Europe after World War II, now provides more than $20 billion a year for projects such as building dams and roads, bolstering education and fighting disease. The bank's centerpiece program today offers interest-free loans to the poorest countries.
An official told AP that Wolfowitz wanted the bank to accept some responsibility for conflicts of interest cited against him by a special bank panel. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate state of the negotiations.
It was not clear whether the bank's 24-member board would accept Wolfowitz's terms.
The source, who is close to the bank president, told FOX News that reporting to the effect that Wolfowitz is presently negotiating with World Bank officials the terms of his resignation are "premature ... way ahead of where anybody else [involved with the case] is."
The source said Wolfowitz is said to be waiting to see how the World Bank board will rule before contemplating such talks. "We are not negotiating the verdict here," the source told FOX News. "We do not know how the Shaha Riza case is going to be decided."
European members — led by France, Germany and the Netherlands — are pushing for Wolfowitz to resign. The White House, for the first time, suggested this week that it would be open to a change of leadership.
By tradition, the World Bank has been run by an American, with the approval of the bank's board. The bank's sister agency, the International Monetary Fund, is headed by a European.
FOX News' James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.