World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz refused on Wednesday to bow to heavy European pressure to resign as he sought to clear his name in negotiations with the bank's board over a possible exit strategy.
"Mr. Wolfowitz will not resign under this cloud -- he is awaiting the decision of the full board which has heard from him last night and seen all the evidence. ," Robert Bennett, Wolfowitz's lawyer told NBC's Andrea Mitchell. Bennett added that, "If the full board does not clear his name and exonerate him - he (Wolfowitz) will not resign."
Several European countries have said Wolfowitz should step down to salvage the bank's credibility, which they say has been damaged by his handling of a high-paying promotion for his companion, bank Middle East expert Shaha Riza.
The controversial former deputy U.S. defense secretary and architect of the Iraq war has insisted he acted in good faith on the advice of a board ethics committee in overseeing the promotion of Riza and has said he wants it to acknowledge its own failures.
A board panel found his efforts on her behalf broke bank rules and represented a conflict of interest.
Board sources said talks were launched on Wednesday over how to push the dispute to a close. Some members have suggested a resolution that would recognize the panel's findings and Wolfowitz's efforts to resolve the conflict of interest issues over Riza, but also acknowledge mistakes by the board.
However, the board adjourned until Thursday without a decision.
Under a contract he signed in June 2005 when he became World Bank president, Wolfowitz would receive a year's salary, or around $375,000, if his service were terminated by the board or if he resigned.
Pressure To Resign
Pressure to resign intensified on Wednesday as European countries signaled they would resist a bid by the United States to keep Wolfowitz in the job.