The president announced his departure in the face of an imminent impeachment trial - and possible removal from office - over the Watergate affair.

The president broke the news of his resignation in a television broadcast from the White House on Thursday at 2100 local time. It will take effect from noon tomorrow.

Mr Nixon, 61, said initially he had believed it was his duty to complete his term of office despite the Watergate charges.

"In the past days, however, it has become evident that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort," he said.

"As president I must put the interests of America first."


Mr Nixon has been charged by the House Judiciary Committee with "high crimes and misdemeanours".

The charges stem from a 1972 break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex.

The break-in, during that year's election campaign, was traced to members of a Nixon-support group, the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP).

Tape recordings have shown the president subsequently tried to influence the police investigation into the crime.

Mr Nixon is leaving office with more than two years of his second term left to run.

In his address Mr Nixon said he would be succeeded by US vice-president Gerald Ford.

Mr Ford will be sworn in as the 38th president of the United States tomorrow.


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