Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John KerryJohn Forbes KerryJohn Kerry: Democratic debate 'was something of a food fight' Kerry responds to Trump accusation he violated Logan Act: 'Another presidential lie' Mellman: Primary elections aren't general elections MORE (D-Mass.) on Tuesday called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside and help establish a transitional government.

Reiterating points he made in a New York Times op-ed, Kerry said at the start of a panel hearing that Mubarak should announce that neither he nor his son will be candidates in the nation's next presidential election.

He also called on Mubarak to step down and work with the Egyptian military "and civil society" to form a "caretaker government to transition Egypt to a new government."

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It is "vital" for Mubarak to "help transform this moment into a new era" for both his nation and the entire Middle East. Such actions could make a revamped Egypt "a template for transformation of the entire region," Kerry said.

Mubarak should set in motion a process to step aside, Kerry said, but not resign immediately.

"President Hosni Mubarak must accept that the stability of his country hinges on his willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure," Kerry wrote in The New York Times.

Kerry's announcement comes after days of national protests by Egyptians of Mubarak, which have drawn intense international focus. The military in that country has refused to open fire on protesters, leading to speculation that some sort of agreement to oust Mubarak might be an inevitability at this point.

Kerry praised Mubarak in his op-ed, but said that it was best for the stability of Egypt that he begin the process of stepping down from power. The Massachusetts Democrat's declaration is arguably the most forceful by a credentialed U.S. official on matters of foreign policy.

"Well, I think that there's a process of transition here that's very importance to everyone, including to Egyptians," Kerry said of his plan on NPR. "You're not suddenly going to have a government of any competence at all that comes in, unless there's some understanding of who and how of a transition process."


This post was updated at 10:39 a.m.