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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Middle East
3:29 am
Sun August 18, 2013

Obama Struggles To Find Effective Egypt Policy

President Obama delivers a statement on Egypt at his vacation home on Martha's Vineyard on Thursday.
Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 5:00 pm

The Obama administration is in a difficult situation with its Egypt policy.

President Obama, who often talks about free speech and human rights, has cancelled joint military exercises with Egypt but has stopped short of cutting off aid to the Egyptian military. As the violence continues in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, all sides seem unhappy with the U.S. approach.

In 2009, on his first trip to the Middle East as president, in the same year he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama spoke of a new approach to relations with the Islamic world.

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Middle East
3:45 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Obama Condemns Crackdown In Egypt

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 4:29 am

President Obama is canceling joint military exercises with Egypt and condemning the violence that is taking place there. But the administration has stopped short of suspending aid to the Egyptian military. The U.S. faces a policy conundrum in Egypt, which has long played a key role in regional stability.

Africa
3:27 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Egypt's Military-Backed Government Condemned For Crackdown

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 6:40 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Around the world, there is sharp reaction to the crackdown in Cairo. In Egypt, there is a month-long state of emergency and a nightly curfew. Egyptian riot police moved against supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in the early hours today. Armored vehicles, helicopters and bulldozers moved on the camps to clear protesters out of two encampments in the capital city. Witnesses describe it as a bloodbath.

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Middle East
3:17 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Syrian Refugee Camp Grows To The Size Of A Small City

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Certainly one big focus for John Kerry and the Obama administration is the conflict in Syria which continues to rage on. Diplomatic efforts to solve it remain at a stalemate. And as the fighting goes on, refugee camps have become difficult to manage. Getting aid into the country is an even bigger challenge.

NPR's Michele Kelemen contacted several aid groups to see how they're trying to reach millions of Syrians in need.

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National Security
3:09 am
Sat August 10, 2013

Kerry, Hagel Aim To Ease U.S.-Russian Tensions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, walk to their news conference at the Russian Embassy in Washington on Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 5:43 am

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with their Russian counterparts for talks in Washington on Friday, aiming to repair strained relations with Moscow.

President Obama snubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday when he called off plans to go to Moscow next month for a one-on-one summit. He was reacting to Russia's offer of temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

But on Friday, the diplomats seemed eager to show that the dispute is not some new sort of cold war.

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Europe
2:31 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Cancellation Of Putin Meeting Highlights U.S.-Russia Tensions

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 5:21 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

President Obama has canceled a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision comes not long after Russia announced it was granting temporary asylum to Edward Snowden. He faces charges in the U.S. that he leaked secret documents on government surveillance programs. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, today's reversal is just the latest sign that U.S.-Russia relations are not in a good place.

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World
3:11 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Ambassadors Question Decision To Close Mideast Embassies

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 4:24 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Nineteen U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa will stay closed for the rest of the week. The State Department says that it's operating out of an abundance of caution amid intelligence reports about the possibility of terrorist attacks. And, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, it's not clear when the facilities will reopen.

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National Security
9:33 am
Sun August 4, 2013

Snowden Case Illustrates Decline In U.S.-Russia Relations

President Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Northern Ireland in June.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 4:38 pm

U.S.-Russia relations hit a new low this week, when Moscow ignored U.S. requests and gave temporary asylum to a man who leaked classified documents on U.S. government surveillance programs.

Many in Congress are complaining that the Edward Snowden case is just the latest example of how the Kremlin is thumbing its nose at the White House.

The Obama administration famously reset relations with Russia when Dmitry Medvedev was president. But now that Russian President Vladimir Putin is back in the Kremlin, it seems to be having a more difficult time.

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World
3:19 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

U.S. State Department Cautiously On Alert

U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world will be closed on Sunday and possible for longer. The State Department says it is taking the step "out of an abundance of caution" and wouldn't say if they are receiving direct threats. Members of Congress say there are concerns about an al-Qaida-linked attack. Last year, the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed in Benghazi, along with three other Americans. At that time, there were also violent protests at U.S. embassies in Cairo and Tunisia.

Middle East
2:56 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Kerry Relaunches Mideast Peace Talks Amid Skepticism

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:24 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This evening, after a three-year hiatus, Secretary of State John Kerry is re-launching Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Kerry has tapped a longtime expert on the region, Martin Indyk of The Brookings Institution, to be the day-to-day point person on negotiations. Many are skeptical that this renewed effort will work. But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Secretary Kerry has made it a top priority.

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Middle East
3:05 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Taliban Attack Survivor Speaks At U.N. On Her 16th Birthday

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 4:19 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. A young Pakistani girl who survived a Taliban attack last year was at the United Nations today, appealing for education for all children. It was the first public speech by Malala Yousafzai since the Taliban tried to kill her near her school in Pakistan's Swat Valley last year. Today also happens to be her 16th birthday, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Africa
2:53 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

U.S. Wants Egypt To Have An Inclusive Political Transition

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 5:21 pm

As the Obama administration slow-walks a decision on whether to call the ousting of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi a coup, which would lead to an aid cut off, U.S. officials are also in the awkward position of trying to encourage the Muslim Brotherhood to accept Morsi's ouster and return to the political process. President Obama has spoken by phone to the leader of Qatar, which had bankrolled the Morsi government. He's also been talking to Gulf leaders who were quick to step in to help Egypt after the Islamist government was toppled.

Afghanistan
2:32 am
Wed July 10, 2013

U.S. Troop Issue Complicates Diplomacy With Afghanistan

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 6:03 am

President Obama is considering pulling all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next year, but the White House says no decision is imminent. Administration officials say the U.S. and Afghanistan are still talking about whether the U.S. will keep some residual force in Afghanistan after 2014.

Political Crisis In Egypt
6:21 am
Sat July 6, 2013

The U.S. Holds The Aid Card, Yet Egypt Still Trumps

Egyptian protesters celebrate in Tahrir Square on Wednesday. The United States has managed to alienate just about every political actor in Egypt.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 6, 2013 7:04 pm

The ouster of Mohammed Morsi puts the U.S. in an awkward position: By law, the administration is supposed to cut off aid to a country after a military coup, but Egypt's military has been a key to regional stability. As the administration considers its next steps, it's come under criticism from all sides in Egypt over how it's handling the situation.

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National Security
4:05 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Russia, U.S. At Odds Over Fate Of Edward Snowden

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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U.S.
4:10 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

U.S. Faces Major Diplomatic Challenge In Extraditing Snowden

The U.S. is urging countries around the world to return a former intelligence contractor, who was last seen in Hong Kong. The State Department revoked Edward Snowden's passport, but the man accused of releasing American secrets is on the run. And there seem to be plenty of countries, including Russia, willing to hide him in spite of U.S. appeals.

World
3:16 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Russia And China Dinged In U.S. Human Trafficking Report

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 8:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Russia, China and Uzbekistan are among the countries that the U.S. says are not doing enough to combat modern-day slavery. That was one of the many findings in the State Department's annual human trafficking report released this afternoon.

NPR's Michele Kelemen tells us more.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Luis CdeBaca runs the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

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Middle East
3:14 am
Wed June 19, 2013

U.S. To Test The Waters With Iran's New President Rohani

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 7:40 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When Barack Obama became president and offered his hand to Iran, that country's elites reacted skeptically. Many said he was a new face, but still represented Iran's great enemy. Now, Iran will have a new face, winner of last week's presidential election, Hassan Rohani. He says he wants better relations with the outside world, so it's America's turn to wonder just how much Rohani could really change in Iran's confrontation with the U.S. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on the evidence so far.

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Middle East
3:14 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

U.S. Supplies For Syrian Rebels May Be Too Little, Too Late

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 4:12 pm

After determining that the Syrian government has crossed a red line by using chemical weapons, the White House has agreed to start sending military aid to the rebels. Some analysts think it may be too late to tip the balance in Syria, where Assad's forces backed by Hezbollah, Iran and Russia have been gaining ground.

Middle East
3:38 am
Fri June 14, 2013

U.S. To Provide Military Support To Opposition In Syria

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 4:52 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. The Obama administration has shifted policy on Syria with an announcement, last night, that it will step up support for rebels who've been losing ground in recent weeks. The White House says it will start providing direct military support to rebel commanders.

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World
4:04 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Russian Rockers Visit Washington To Lobby For Band Mates

Originally published on Fri June 7, 2013 6:29 pm

Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot came to Washington to meet members of the Obama administration and Congress. The feminist activist band is hoping to persuade U.S. officials to visit two of their members in Russian penal colonies to highlight their plight.

Politics
2:46 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Sen. McCain Urges U.S. To Do More For Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Fri June 7, 2013 12:32 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Sen. John McCain is pushing the Obama administration to do more for rebels fighting the Syrian government. This follows his trip last week to opposition-held territory in Syria. McCain warns that a failure to act could send the Middle East deep into sectarian conflict.

His comments come as both the rebels, and the likelihood of planned peace talks, appear to be losing ground.NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Politics
3:19 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Samantha Power Picked To Take Over For Rice At U.N.

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 4:53 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now let's take a look at the woman nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations when Susan Rice steps down. Samantha Power has been working behind the scenes in the Obama administration on U.N.-related issues. Before that she was an activist and author of an influential book about preventing genocide.

As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Power's supporters see her as the conscience in the White House.

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Asia
3:16 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Can U.S. And China Carve Out Peaceful Future In Asia?

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 4:19 pm

As President Obama meets his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, many experts hope this will be the start of something new: regular high-level contacts. History shows it is always dangerous when established powers face rising powers.

Middle East
4:03 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Egyptian Court Verdict Complicates Relations With Washington

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 7:20 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Obama administration is expressing deep concern about guilty verdicts in Egypt against 43 people who were working on democracy programs in the country. Sixteen of them are Americans, though most left Egypt when the charges were brought against them. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports that issue is one of many complicating Washington's relations with Cairo.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Charles Dunne wasn't even in Egypt when he first heard about the charges against him and he never received anything official from the court.

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Asia
3:28 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Myanmar Leader's Visit To Washington A Historic Occasion

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For the first time in nearly five decades, the president of Myanmar paid a visit to the White House. Thein Sein has overseen some dramatic changes in his country, long a pariah on the world stage. And the Obama administration has been trying to encourage those reforms by easing sanctions. President Obama himself went to Myanmar, also known as Burma, last year. But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, there is still a lot of work to do.

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Middle East
2:24 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Obama, Erdogan To Discuss Syria's Conflict Spilling Into Turkey

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 10:57 am

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets President Obama at the White House on Thursday. Their talks will focus on the Syrian conflict. Erdogan has been pushing the U.S. to do more to resolve a conflict.

Middle East
2:49 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Plans Proceed For Another International Meeting On Syria

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 11:19 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 got a warning this week about Syria. It's a warning that the country's civil war seems unlikely to end very soon on its own.

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NPR Story
3:29 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Kerry's Agenda: Priorities Emerge With Travel

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 6:29 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been in the Middle East, Rome and Russia this week trying to find some kind of diplomatic end to Syria's civil war. He's also been trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Mr. Kerry has been the U.S. secretary of state for just over 100 days, spending more than a third of that time overseas.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on how his tenure at the State Department seems to be shaping up.

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World
2:55 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Kerry Appeals To Russia To Help End Syrian Civil War

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 8:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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