Author Salman Rushdie said Monday he would seriously consider an invitation to visit Egypt, but he denied newspaper reports that he had been formally asked to do so.

In an interview on Independent Television News, Rushdie also criticized other writers who have spoken out against his decision Dec. 24 to embrace Islam and to put a hold on any paperback version of his novel "The Satanic Verses.""What happened is that when the Egyptian minister of Islamic studies, who is one of the scholars that I met on Christmas Eve, was there, he suggested that maybe it might be appropriate for me at some time to go to Egypt, but that's as informal as it was," Rushdie said. "There has been no formal invitation."

Egypt's religious affairs ministry earlier in the day had denied newspaper reports that Rushdie had been officially invited. A senior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, characterized as "absolutely without foundation" reports published Sunday in the Observer, a London weekly, and repeated Monday in Cairo papers.

Rushdie is continuing his cautious re-entry into normal life after being in hiding since February 1989, when Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for the author's death.