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.

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Africa
2:16 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

U.S. Envoy: Time For Intervention In Central African Republic

Soldiers from Burundi arrive at the airport in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, on Dec. 15 to join the African Union and French efforts to restore security in the troubled nation.
Sia Kambou AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:57 pm

The Obama administration's ambassador to the U.N. says this is a pivotal moment for the Central African Republic and time for the international community to take steps to prevent further atrocities there.

Samantha Power, a former journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is well-known as an advocate for humanitarian intervention. How she and the Obama administration handle the conflict in the CAR is a major test of that.

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Politics
4:56 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Kerry Urges Lawmakers To Hold Off On Iran Sanctions

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on lawmakers not to impose further sanctions in Iran as negotiations on reining in Tehran's nuclear program continue. Iranian officials have said new sanctions would kill off any hope of a final deal between Iran and world powers.

Africa
2:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

French-Backed Forces Try To Stem Bloodshed In CAR

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:30 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

French President Francois Hollande attended today's memorial service for Nelson Mandela. We're going to hear now about the next stop on his schedule. On his way home from South Africa, Hollande stopped in Central African Republic, or CAR. The former French colony has been descending into chaos since a coup in March. A French-backed African force is trying to re-establish order there, and two French soldiers were killed in fighting overnight. The U.S. is offering logistical support.

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Parallels
3:11 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Will Progress On Nuke Talks Mean More Engagement From Iran?

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Nov. 24 in Geneva, after the announcement of a deal halting parts of Iran's nuclear program.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:01 pm

The U.S. and other major powers have been holding historic negotiations with Iran to try to curb that country's nuclear program. But Washington still has many other concerns about Iranian behavior. And while some diplomats may hope to build on the nuclear talks to push Iran to play a more constructive role in the region, experts remain skeptical.

Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says there are a couple of ways to look at the negotiations with Iran.

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Africa
3:29 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

U.N. Weighs Response To Central African Republic Conflict

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 3:56 pm

World powers are scrambling to get a hold of a crisis in Central African Republic that U.N. officials have warned could lead to genocide. The nation slipped into bloody anarchy after rebels ousted the president in March.

Politics
2:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

John Kerry: Risk Ready And Looking For A Legacy

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 6:50 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Secretary of State John Kerry will have to work hard to allay concerns about the Iran deal, concerns from U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. And as Melissa just mentioned, the White House faces criticism from some in Congress. Kerry will need to convince senators not to impose additional sanctions on Iran so that negotiators can come up with a comprehensive deal over the next six months. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Kerry seems to be well positioned to take on the challenges.

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Middle East
2:44 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Selling Iran Deal To Congress, Kerry Downplays Israeli Criticism

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 7:02 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. This could be a big week for diplomacy with Iran. The U.S. and other world powers are sending diplomats back to Geneva. They're hoping to persuade Iran to roll back some of its nuclear program, in exchange for limited sanctions relief. One key U.S. ally is not happy about that. Israel calls it a bad deal, and is urging the U.S. to stand tough.

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Africa
2:51 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

DRC Rebels' Surrender Could Mark New Chapter In U.N. Peacekeeping

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 pm

There's been a rare bit of good news in Eastern Congo this month. One of the rebel groups that have terrorized civilians in the mineral rich part of the the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to end its rebellion. There's still a lot of work to do to disarm the M23 and to keep other rebel movements in check. But this small victory is a boost for U.N. peacekeepers, who are under a new, tougher mandate to protect civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some experts wonder if this could be a new model for peacekeeping.

Europe
3:18 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Russian LGBT Activists Visit Washington To Drum Up Support

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 6:08 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish at NPR West in California.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block in Washington, D.C. Russian gay rights activists are making the rounds here in the nation's capital. They want the U.S. to keep up pressure on Moscow ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. They're not calling for a boycott. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, they want to raise awareness about anti-gay discrimination in Russia.

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Middle East
4:19 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Syrian Regime, Rebels Fail To Set Date For Talks

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Parallels
1:17 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Syria's Moderate Rebels Fight A Battle On Two Fronts

A Syrian fighter from the Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra inspects a resident's identification papers at a checkpoint in Aleppo on Oct. 26. Syria's Islamist fighters are generally better funded than their more moderate counterparts.
Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 3:28 pm

Like many Syrian exiles, Murhaf Jouejati, a professor at National Defense University, is frustrated by U.S. policy toward Syria. He says there's been only a trickle of U.S. aid to the secular, nationalist opposition in Syria, while the Islamists have no trouble raising money through their networks in the Arab world.

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World
4:12 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Saudi Act Of Protest Stuns U.N., And Some Observers

The U.N. Security Council votes on a resolution requiring Syria to give up its chemical weapons last month in New York. Last week, Saudi Arabia turned down a chance to take a seat on the Council.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 6:58 am

Known for quiet diplomacy, Saudi Arabia is taking an unusual and very public step to protest the international community's failure to resolve the crisis in Syria and other issues that interest Riyadh.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia was elected to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, which the Saudi ambassador to the U.N. initially called a defining moment in his nation's history.

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Middle East
2:38 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Experts Debate How Best To Remove Syria's Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 8:23 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Let's go deeper now into one issue Secretary of State John Kerry raised in my interview with him earlier in the program. The secretary, along with his Russian counterpart, got Syria's Bashar al-Assad to agree to hand over his vast store of chemical weapons. Now, Kerry is suggesting those stockpiles be taken out of Syria.

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Middle East
3:22 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Peace Prize Winners Want To Rid The World Of Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 4:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

This year's Nobel Peace Prize goes to the international chemical weapons watchdogs now on the ground in Syria. The group has been working for a decade and a half to get rid of some of the world's deadliest weapons. Its latest mission is also its most dangerous, documenting and disposing of the Syrian government's stockpiles in an active war zone.

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Middle East
3:24 am
Thu October 10, 2013

U.S. Delays Egyptian Aid Over Democracy Issue

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 5:39 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

When Egypt's democratically-elected president was ousted from power, there was a lot of speculation that the United States might cut off some, if not all, aid to that country. And now the Obama administration has told the interim government in Egypt that it's holding up hundreds of millions of dollars. The message from the United States boils down to this: No Apache helicopters until you can show you're getting back on a path to democracy. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Middle East
3:37 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Long Road Ahead For Weapons Inspectors In Syria

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Chemical weapons experts are working on a tight timeline in Syria to document and dispose of that country's stockpiles. The director-general of the chemical weapons watchdog group calls the effort an unprecedented mission. And so far, he says Syria has been cooperating. And the U.S. has even praised Damascus for going along with the plan.

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Middle East
3:21 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Netanyahu: Iranian President 'Wolf In Sheep's Clothing'

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 7:05 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

In New York today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered scathing words about the new Iranian president. In his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly, he described the Iranian president as a wolf in sheep's clothing who's not to be trusted. Netanyahu said if necessary, Israel will stand alone to keep Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Middle East
2:41 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Netanyahu Urges World To Keep Pressure On Iran

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 7:04 am

A day after a meeting with President Obama, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes center stage at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He will likely dwell on Iran's suspect nuclear program and warn the world community against being taken in by Tehran's recent charm offensive.

Middle East
5:58 am
Sat September 28, 2013

U.N. Security Council Approves Syria Chemical Arms Deal

Originally published on Sat September 28, 2013 9:16 am

The United Nations Security Council has broken its two-and-a-half-year deadlock over Syria, approving a resolution on the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. The U.S. and Russia are now trying to move beyond that and will try to get the warring sides around the negotiating table in Geneva.

Middle East
3:17 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Aid Groups Say Relief Should Be Part Of UN Deal On Syria

UN Security Council diplomats are working on a resolution that focuses on ridding Syria of chemical weapons. Aid groups want the UN to go further and help them open up routes to get desperately needed assistance to Syrians uprooted by the civil war. They say the paralysis on the security council has had a real costs on the ground and has added to donor fatigue.

Middle East
1:55 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Kerry Vows To Keep Assessing Iran's Nuclear Intentions

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 4:07 am

Secretary of State Kerry and his counterparts from Britain, France, Russia, China and the European Union met with Iran's foreign minister at the United Nations on Thursday. They left the meeting praising Iran's new tone, but saying there is a lot of work to be done in dealing with Iran's suspect nuclear program. The talks resume in Geneva in mid-October.

Middle East
3:44 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Kerry Meets Iranian Foreign Minister For Nuclear Talks

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:19 pm

Another round of talks on Iran's suspect nuclear program took place Thursday, this one at the United Nations and, for the first time, at the ministerial level. Secretary of State Kerry and Iran's new Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, will be among those in attendance along with their counterparts from the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Germany. No breakthroughs are anticipated in New York but the talks are expected to reconvene a week or so later in Geneva in search of an accord.

Politics
4:03 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

U.S. Signs Arms Trade Treaty, But Will The Senate Ratify It?

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The United States added a signature to a new treaty today. It's on international arms trade. The agreement is meant to stem the flow of weapons to conflict zones around the world. Human rights activists are hailing the decision, but the Obama administration will have an uphill battle getting the treaty ratified by Congress. NPR's Michele Kelemen has more from the United Nations.

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Middle East
3:23 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Iran, U.S. Can Manage Differences, Rouhani Tells U.N.

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 4:25 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. President Obama never did meet Iran's president Hasan Rouhani at the United Nations, as many expected. But Iran's new president gave a speech calling for results-oriented talks to clear up concern about what he called Iran's peaceful nuclear program. NPR's Michele Kelemen was there.

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Middle East
3:11 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Iran's President Rouhani To Address U.N. For 1st Time

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 7:13 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Let's talk through President Obama's speech just now at the United Nations. The president addressed the annual meeting of the General Assembly, a big room full of diplomats and world leaders. He called for action to enforce the removal of Syria's chemical weapons, and he also spoke of negotiations with Iran, among other issues. NPR's Michele Kelemen is at the United Nations. She was listening in.

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Parallels
12:25 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Will The U.S. Grant A Visa To Sudan's Indicted Leader?

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who faces genocide charges, has applied for a visa to come to the U.S. for the annual United Nations General Assembly next week. The U.S. has not yet said whether he'll be allowed in the country.
Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:09 pm

As the host of the United Nations, the U.S. is supposed to let everyone come to the annual U.N. General Assembly, not just the people it likes.

But this year, the proposition is being put to the test. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, was indicted three years ago by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges stemming from the mass killings in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Bashir has also applied for a visa to the U.N. meetings next week.

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Europe
2:12 am
Mon September 16, 2013

U.S. Allies Meet In Paris On Syria Plan

Originally published on Sun September 22, 2013 6:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I'm David Greene. Good morning. A diplomatic deal between the United States and Russia addresses a crisis over Syria, but does not end that crisis. The two powers agreed that Syria should quickly surrender its chemical weapons.

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World
3:47 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

U.S.-Russia Deal: Syria Has A Week To Detail Chemical Arsenal

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 4:15 pm

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

The U.S. and Russia have agreed on a plan to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of next year. Secretary of State John Kerry calls it an ambitious timetable but says he's confident the international community can keep the pressure on Syria to comply. President Obama welcomed the agreement but says the U.S. remains prepared to act should the diplomatic route fail.

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Middle East
5:47 am
Sat September 14, 2013

U.S., Russia Reach Agreement On Syria

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 9:28 am

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday they have reached an agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons. Michele Kelemen speaks with host Scott Simon.

Middle East
2:58 am
Fri September 13, 2013

U.S. And Russia Hammer Out Plan For Syria's Chemical Weapons

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov resume meetings in Geneva on Friday. The talks are aimed at working out the details of a program in which Syria's Bashar Assad would give up his chemical weapons.

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