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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Wolfowitz faces a final showdown
Paul Wolfowitz
Paul Wolfowitz has been resisting pressure to resign
The World Bank's board has resumed its deliberations about the fate of its president Paul Wolfowitz after adjourning at the request of the US.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said they had to "figure out a way forward to maintain the integrity of the institution" after the current scandal.

The comments have been taken as a signal that the Bush administration's support for Mr Wolfowitz is waning.

Mr Wolfowitz is accused of being too involved with his girlfriend's payrise.

He is under pressure to resign after the panel said he had broken the bank's code of conduct by helping to secure a pay rise for his partner, Shaha Riza.

He told the board that their decision would affect how the US and the world viewed the World Bank.

"You still have the opportunity to avoid long-term damage by resolving this matter in a fair and equitable way that recognises that we all tried to do the right thing," Mr Wolfowitz said in a statement.

After the hearing in Washington Mr Wolfowitz's lawyer Robert Bennett said his client's performance justified "the full support he has from leadership in the White House".

'Opposition building'

Mr Snow denied that White House support was diminishing, saying: "We support him. We have confidence in him."

But opposition is mounting, especially in Europe.

"He would do the bank and himself a great service if he resigned," according to the German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul.

She suggested he would not be welcome at the World Bank's forum on aid for Africa, which is due to start in Berlin on Monday.

"I would not advise him [to take part] if he's still in office," she said.

A protester outside the World Bank in Washington

On Monday, a panel of World Bank executives said Mr Wolfowitz provoked a "conflict of interest" at the bank by breaking its code of conduct and violating the terms of his contract.

Mr Wolfowitz has faced calls for him to step down since details emerged about his role in securing a pay rise for his partner, Shaha Riza, who used to work at the bank.

Mr Snow told journalists at the White House that Mr Wolfowitz agreed "a lot of mistakes were made" in the process, but they were not a "firing offence".

When Mr Wolfowitz was appointed president of the World Bank in 2005, Ms Riza was transferred to work for the US state department, to avoid any conflict of interest.

But her salary rose quickly to about $193,000 (98,000) - more than the $186,000 that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice receives before tax.

The World Bank has since been investigating the extent of Mr Wolfowitz's role in securing the pay increase.




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