The director of U.S. Central Intelligence has resigned. President Bush says George Tenet is leaving his post as head of the intelligence community for personal reasons.

President Bush made the surprise announcement on the White House lawn, as he was preparing to depart for Europe.

"George Tenet, the director of the CIA, has submitted a letter of resignation," said President Bush.

The president said he met with Mr. Tenet before receiving the letter and the chief of central intelligence said he was stepping down for personal reasons. Mr. Bush said he accepted the resignation, but indicated he did so with regret.

"I told him I am sorry he is leaving," he said. "He's done a superb job on behalf of the American people."

President Bush described George Tenet as strong and resolute. He said he has served the nation and the intelligence community well.

"He's been a strong leader in the war on terror," added President Bush. "And I will miss him."

George Tenet led the intelligence agency through some of its most trying times. It came under criticism for its handling of intelligence data prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and questions have been raised about the quality of the information gathered on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Through it all, Mr. Tenet remained a close confidant of the president, and personally delivered most of his daily intelligence briefings. In announcing Mr. Tenet's resignation, Mr. Bush said he looks forward to working with George Tenet during the remaining weeks of his tenure, and wishes him all the best.

Mr. Tenet will remain in his post until mid-July. A deputy will then take over on an acting basis, until a replacement is named and confirmed by the Senate.