Former President Jimmy Carter, who brokered a peace accord between Israel and Egypt in 1978, on Sunday called the political unrest and rioting in Egypt earth-shaking and said that President Hosni Mubarak probably will have to step down.
Carter told a Sunday school class that he teaches that the unrest is "the most profound situation in the Middle East" since he left office in 1981. He said he thinks the unrest will ease in the next week, but his "guess is Mubarak will have to leave."
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported Carter's remarks made at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains and his spokeswoman confirmed them.
"The United States wants Mubarak to stay in power, but the people have decided," Carter said.
His spokeswoman, Deanna Congileo, said no further statement would be issued.
Carter brought Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin together for the peace accord signed in Washington, D.C. Sadat and Begin shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the treaty.
Mubarak was vice president at the time and became president in 1981 when Sadat was assassinated by opponents of the agreement.
Carter said that as Mubarak's 30-year rule has continued, the Egyptian leader has become more politically corrupt. "He has perpetuated himself in office," Carter said.
Mubarak has appointed Omar Suleiman, the country's intelligence chief, as vice president. "He's an intelligent man whom I like very much," Carter said of Suleiman, with whom he says he has maintained a relationship.
"In the last four or five years when I go to Egypt, I don't go to talk to Mubarak, who talks like a politician," Carter said. "If I want to know what is going on in the Middle East, I talk to Suleiman. And as far as I know, he has always told me the truth."