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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Western countries are taking a two-fold approach to the Ukraine crisis: isolate Russia and help Ukraine overcome massive economic challenges. The International Monetary Fund has a bailout package in the works. It requires Ukraine to carry out difficult reforms. Ukraine has fallen short on such conditions in the past but the stakes are higher now.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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President Obama leaves Rome tomorrow for Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where he'll be reassuring Saudi officials that the U.S. is committed to security in the Persian Gulf region.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports U.S.-Saudi relations have been strained over many regional issues, from Syria and Egypt to diplomacy on Iran.

Russia's annexation of Crimea has troubled its relations with the U.S. As Russia and the U.S. begin to trade sanctions in retaliation, analysts wonder if this spells a renewal of Cold War rivalry.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin moved today to overturn recent history by reclaiming Crimea for Russia. Putin signed a treaty to annex Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and gave a rousing speech to parliament laying out his case. He is also blasted the West for trying to frighten him with sanctions.

Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk takes his case to the United Nations on Thursday, as he tries to build support for his country in its territorial conflict with Russia.

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And we begin this hour with the latest on the standoff over Ukraine. Today, Russian forces seized the Ukrainian naval post, military hospital and a missile unit in Crimea. At the same time, Moscow accused Kiev of encouraging right-wing groups and creating lawlessness in eastern Ukraine. This all complicates things on the diplomatic front.

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Yesterday, he was in Ukraine. Today, it's Paris. Secretary of State John Kerry is logging a lot of miles these days, trying to find a diplomatic solution to the unfolding crisis in Crimea. In Paris, he met with Russia's foreign minister. Kerry said the discussions were substantive. Diplomatic sources tell NPR the results were inconclusive. But at least the talking had begun.

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The stage is set today for what could be a very tense meeting in Paris between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Kiev Tuesday, offering $1 billion in American loan guarantees and promises of technical assistance to the new Ukrainian government.

A photo from Syria is grabbing the world's attention: a sea of people lining up for food amid the rubble of a Palestinian refugee camp inside Syria.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was so moved by the image, he took to the Senate floor, saying "a country of 23 million people, a proud country, is being transformed before our eyes to a land of rubble, skeletons, refugees and ghosts."

Ukraine's ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, emerged Friday to give a news conference on Russian soil, not far from the Ukraine border. Russia is not only giving Yanukovych shelter — it's also carrying out military exercises that have raised alarms in Washington.

The escalating political crisis in Venezuela has set off alarms in Washington. But there's little the U.S. has been able to do, aside from criticize the jailing of opposition figures or the rising death toll as protesters continue to take to the streets, blaming the government for high inflation and crime.

The United States, hoping to avert economic chaos in Ukraine, is prepared to send financial support to supplement aid from the International Monetary Fund, the White House said on Monday.

"The United States, working with partners around the world, stands ready to provide support for Ukraine as it takes the reforms it needs to, to get back to economic stability," White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news briefing.

Foreign ministers from France, Germany and Poland are traveling to Ukraine in hopes of persuading all sides in the country's recent violence to pull back from the brink and restart a political dialogue. The U.S. is also urging the country's president to calm the situation and restart a dialogue with the opposition. But the U.S. and Europe seem to have few levers of influence, as the crisis spins out of control.

The nominee to be U.S. ambassador to, say, Hungary should be able to explain what the U.S. strategic interests are in that country — right?

But Colleen Bell, a soap opera producer and President Obama's appointee to be U.S. envoy to that European country, struggled to answer that simple question during her recent confirmation hearing.

Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Bashar Assad's regime of using starvation as a weapon of war. Critics say the U.S. has not done enough to stop the violence, but Washington doesn't have many options.

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The U.S. and other major powers will hold talks with Iran later this month. The goal is turn an interim deal, limiting that nation's nuclear program, into a more lasting agreement. President Obama has asked that Congress give diplomats some room to maneuver and not pass any new sanctions bill. That he says could derail the entire process.

As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, this threat of sanctions is just one symptom of a deeper problem that makes these negotiations hard for both sides.

Secretary of State John Kerry is attending a donors conference in Kuwait to try to raise money for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. Millions of people have been forced from their homes and the U.N. has struggled to gain access to many parts of the country.

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In just a week, the U.N. plans to hold Syrian peace talks in Switzerland. In the meantime, the U.S. is leaning hard on opposition leaders to attend and talk face-to-face with a government they've been fighting hard to topple. Secretary of State John Kerry has been in meetings for the past two days in Paris, laying the groundwork for the conference.

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The U.S. and other world powers have agreed on a plan with Iran to start rolling back parts of the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief. Secretary of State John Kerry says the deal goes into effect later this month.

The United States played a key role in helping South Sudan gain independence. But, U.S. diplomats are having a hard time helping the country emerge from internal political and ethnic violence.

You don't have to venture far to see the misery caused by the latest crisis in the Central African Republic.

On the edge of the airport in the capital Bangui, tens of thousands of people are sleeping out in the open with no basic services. It's here that Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, meets Martine Kutungai with her husband, a pastor, and their eight children.

Kutungai says she's terrified to go home because of the Seleka — Muslim rebels who toppled the government in March.

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The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, made a rare visit to the Central African Republic today. Its government was toppled earlier this year, and Muslim and Christian militias are now locked in a brutal fight. Samantha Power met with the country's new president and appealed for reconciliation to prevent further atrocities.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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