CAIRO, May 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. visit by Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei raised eyebrows amid speculation of a possible Egyptian presidential bid, scholars said.
ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, spoke to audiences at Harvard University and Tufts University last week.
ElBaredei's return to Cairo in February added speculation to rumors he would challenge 81-year-old Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 elections. ElBaradei during his U.S. tour downplayed the rumors, stressing he was acting as an agent of political change, not a candidate.
David Pollock, a senior fellow at the conservative Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said ElBaradei's visit had little to do with public outreach because of his high-profile role as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 to 2009.
"He already has a lot of visibility," he was quoted in Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper as saying. "I don't see how this particular trip makes a significant difference."
Nevertheless, Samer Shehata, a professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University, said ElBaradei's exposure to the Egyptian intellects in the United States was good for Egypt.
"I think that's a very good thing (that he met with the Egyptian academics) and there's nothing wrong with it," he said.