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Michele Kelemen

A former NPR Moscow bureau chief, Michele Kelemen now covers the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In her latest beat, Kelemen has been traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton before him, tracking the Obama administration's broad foreign policy agenda from Asia to the Middle East. She also followed President Bush's Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and was part of the NPR team that won the 2007 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of the war in Iraq.

As NPR's Moscow bureau chief, Kelemen chronicled the end of the Yeltsin era and Vladimir Putin's consolidation of power. She recounted the terrible toll of the latest war in Chechnya, while also reporting on a lighter side of Russia, with stories about modern day Russian literature and sports.

Kelemen came to NPR in September 1998, after eight years working for the Voice of America. There, she learned the ropes as a news writer, newscaster and show host.

Michele earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Russian and East European Affairs and International Economics.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It should be a fairly routine matter for a press freedom organization to get the credentials to attend meetings at the United Nations, an international body whose charter calls for the respect of human rights and basic freedoms. Instead, the Committee to Protect Journalists found itself in what it calls a "Kafka-esque" process, deferred for years — and on Thursday, blocked by 10 countries, including Russia and China , which CPJ calls the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. "A small...

Secretary of State John Kerry has negotiated himself into the odd position of explaining to Western banks how they can do business in Iran. As he tries to keep the Iran nuclear agreement on track in the final year of the Obama administration, Kerry has become personally involved in trying to help Iran get economic benefits out of the deal. That's no easy task and one that critics say is letting Iran off the hook. Kerry huddled with European bankers in London on May 12 to tell them "legitimate...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: All right, this meeting at the U.N. Security Council yesterday was supposed to focus on how to counter groups like ISIS. But the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. put some American allies on notice. She urged them not to use the fight against ISIS as an excuse to crack down on political dissent. This was an apparent warning to Egypt, which has a long record of punishing free speech, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports....

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Randy Berry has seen dramatic changes during his more than 20 years at the State Department. When he moved from a post in Nepal to New Zealand years ago, he had to pay for his husband's plane ticket because such spousal benefits were not covered for gay and lesbian couples. "Those days are gone," Berry says in an interview at his State Department office. Today, the State Department has eight openly gay ambassadors and Berry has become the first U.S. special envoy for the rights of Lesbian,...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Obama administration has shaken up U.S. policy by reaching out to longtime foes including Cuba, Iran and Myanmar. This has spurred a debate about what impact, if any, the U.S. moves have on human rights in these countries. Some argue that such engagement can encourage authoritarian countries to improve their human rights record, while others say it makes no difference, or may even lead regimes to feel they don't have to worry about punitive measures for rights violations. The U.S. State...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: A year ago this week, Saudi Arabia started launching airstrikes against Shiite rebels in Yemen. The Saudis said the military campaign would be quick and limited. Thousands of deaths later, the bombing goes on, but there are signs that Saudi Arabia is ready to find a way out, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports. MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: The Saudis and the Shiite rebels known as the Houthis are talking to...

President Obama's visit to Argentina this week coincides with the anniversary of a dark moment in that country's history. Thursday marks 40 years since a 1976 military coup that ushered in that country's so-called Dirty War , when as many as 30,000 Argentines were killed or disappeared during a seven-year dictatorship. Human rights groups want the U.S. to divulge what it knew back then. The president is now promising that he will declassify new documents. "I'm launching a new effort to open...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: President Obama is preparing for an historic visit to Cuba this weekend. Just a few months ago, he told Yahoo! News he would only go if the conditions were right. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) BARACK OBAMA: If in fact I with confidence can say that we're seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans, I'd love to use a visit as a way of highlighting that...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: An American college student is facing 15 years of hard labor in North Korea. He's accused of trying to steal a sign from a hotel. The U.S. wants to bring him home, but if history is any indication, that will involve sending a high-level delegation to Pyongyang. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports. MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier was with a tour group in North Korea when...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: The United Nations Refugee Agency is struggling to cope with the worst migrant crisis since World War II, and the Italian diplomat who now runs the organization has come to Washington to ask for help. His visit falls on the fifth anniversary of the war in Syria, the main driver of this refugee crisis. NPR's Michelle Kelemen reports. MICHELLE KELEMEN, BYLINE: With Syrian refugees stranded on European...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: And now let's meet someone who has dedicated her life to promoting women's rights in a troubled part of the world. She will be honored tonight at the Kennedy Center here in Washington by the group Vital Voices. She's an Iraqi woman. Her fight began at home, as NPR's Michele Kelemen found out. MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Khanim Latif was just about 12 years old when her father forced her 14-year-old sister...

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's term expires at the end of this year. The election process to find a successor usually plays out behind closed doors. This year, though, the U.N. is trying something new — giving candidates a chance to make their case in public. And, there's a big push by activists to get a woman at the helm. Longtime U.N. watcher Jean Krasno is on a mission. The U.N. has had eight secretaries-general in its 70-year history — all of them men. Krasno, who teaches at The...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Now to a case that could strain relations between the U.S. and a key Gulf ally, the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has been holding two American citizens for a year and a half on what their family says are trumped-up terrorism charges. The two men - a father and son of Libyan descent - have allegedly been tortured, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports. MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Twenty-eight-year-old Amal al...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: We're going to begin the program in Munich today, where Secretary of State John Kerry has been working with Russia and other countries on plans to jumpstart peace talks over Syria and to get desperately needed aid to people there. It's a reminder that Russia may have been isolated over its actions in Ukraine, but now it's right back to the center of international diplomacy - at least when it comes to...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: The path forward in Syria is anything but clear, even after a diplomatic plan negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart. We'll hear from a Syrian doctor in a moment about the dire conditions there, and we'll explore the options the U.S. could take to help end the violence because this new plan may not do that. Now the U.S. and Russia have to convince the fighters to take a...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: The U.S. and Russia have agreed on a plan to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to Syria. And in one week, they say, the warring parties will enact a, quote, "cessation of hostilities" leading to peace talks. Secretary of State John Kerry calls it an ambitious timeline and acknowledges there's a tough road ahead. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) JOHN KERRY: You know, our hard work is obviously far...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: There's has been a life-or-death urgency to Secretary of State John Kerry's meeting today with his Russian counterpart in Munich, Germany. They're trying to restart the Syrian peace talks that the United Nations put on hold. The two men now say they have agree to try to implement a cease-fire and allow in humanitarian aid, but there is serious doubt about whether any of this will happen. These talks...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: There's a life-or-death urgency to Secretary of State John Kerry's meeting with his Russian counterpart in Munich, Germany, today. They're trying to restart the Syrian peace talks that the United Nations have put on hold. Meanwhile, Russian warplanes are bombing rebel areas in the Syrian government of Aleppo in support of the Syrian regime. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing for their lives. The...

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