BRUSSELS, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Friday praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as a wise man and said he should remain in place during the country's transition to democracy.
"I hope there can be continuity in government," he told reporters.
"I hope that in Egypt there can be a transition toward a more democratic system without a break from President Mubarak, who in the West, above all in the United States, is considered the wisest of men and a precise reference point," he said.
On Thursday, Berlusconi and four other European leaders said in a joint statement they were "extremely concerned" about the situation in Egypt and called for "a rapid and orderly transition towards a broadly representative government..."
reporting by Francesco Guarascio, editing by Tim Pearce