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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World
2:25 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Clinton Takes Final World Trek With Virtual Townhall

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:28 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's official - Democratic Senator John Kerry will be the next secretary of State. The Senate voted 94-3 in favor of his confirmation today. Kerry will replace Hillary Clinton, who had been hoping to spend her final days at the State Department on the road, but recent health scares have grounded her. So on this, her last week, Secretary Clinton decided to go around the world virtually. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on a global town hall where Clinton spoke with students and journalists over a video hookup.

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Middle East
3:21 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Kerry Hopeful For Renewed Peace Talks Between Israel, Palestinians

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 7:19 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Obama administration is closely watching political developments in Israel. This week's elections there surprised many analysts in Washington. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to build a new center-right coalition. His party lost some seats in parliament to a new centrist challenger. The White House has had a rough relationship with Netanyahu, and so Washington is looking for a new opportunity now to promote peace. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.

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Politics
3:11 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

John Kerry Lauded At Senate Confirmation Hearing

Sen. John Kerry appeared before fellow members of his Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing as the next secretary of state on Thursday.

National Security
3:05 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Clinton Cautions That North Africa Is A Region To Watch

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 11:19 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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U.S.
3:12 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Clinton: U.S. Can't Retreat From Regions In Turmoil

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:53 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

On Capitol Hill today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was both emotional and angry. Testifying before a Senate committee, she spoke passionately about the attack last September that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. She said she's taking seriously the recommendations of her review panel to better protect U.S. diplomats around the world.

But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Clinton insisted the U.S. can't retreat, especially from a region now in so much turmoil.

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Africa
3:14 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Libyan Crisis Sparked Rising Extremism In North Africa

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 9:40 am

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears before two congressional committees Wednesday to talk about the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya last September. The hostage drama in Algeria, near the Libyan border, has put a spotlight back on that troubled region.

Africa
2:57 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

U.S. Formally Recognizes Somali Government For First Time In 20 Years

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:10 pm

The U.S. formally recognized the Somali government for the first time in 20 years on Thursday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud at the State Department. Hassan is the first permanent Somali president since 1991 and faces a daunting task of rebuilding a nation torn by conflict and Islamist insurgencies.

Africa
3:09 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

U.S. Considers Involvement In Mali As Extremists Seize Territory

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 3:21 pm

The U.S. is mulling over ways to help France, as the French military continues its bombing raids in Northern Mali. The State Department says it shares the French goal of restoring order in part of that African country which is now overrun by extremists, including an al-Qaida affiliate. But the U.S. has long argued that the solution needs to be African-led, so the Obama administration — while offering France some "limited logistical support" — is also trying to speed up efforts to train an African intervention force for Mali.

Politics
1:26 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Assessing Hillary Clinton's Legacy

Hillary Clinton, shown here boarding a plane in Prague earlier this month, is preparing to step aside soon as secretary of state. She hasn't said what she plans to do next.
Kevin Lamarque AP

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 10:04 am

Hillary Clinton is preparing to leave the Obama administration after four years as secretary of state, earning generally high marks and fueling all kinds of speculation about what she wants to do next.

Her boss, President Obama, has paid tribute to her, calling her "tireless and extraordinary," though illness and a concussion have kept her out of public view for the past two weeks.

"More than 400 travel days, nearly 1 million miles," President Obama proclaimed at a diplomatic reception recently. "These are not frequent flier miles. She doesn't get discounts."

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Europe
2:20 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Orphans In Middle Of Russian Political Dispute With U.S.

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 7:40 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

We reported yesterday on a bill passed by the Russian Parliament. It would block American families from adopting Russian children. Adoption advocacy groups are appealing to President Vladimir Putin not to sign the measure.

And as we hear from NPR's Michele Kelemen, adoption has been a sensitive issue between the U.S. and Russia for years.

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National Security
11:51 am
Fri December 21, 2012

John Kerry Already A Familiar Face To World Leaders

U.S. Sen. John Kerry (left), who was nominated Friday to be secretary of state, is shown shaking hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a trip to Pakistan last year.
Aamir Qureshi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

Long before President Obama nominated John Kerry as the country's top diplomat, the Massachusetts senator was seen as a secretary of state in waiting.

He has been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has frequently jetted off to Afghanistan and Pakistan whenever the Obama administration needed him.

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Africa
3:06 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

State Department Concedes Errors In Benghazi Consulate Attack

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 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. We begin this hour with political fallout from the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died in that attack back in September, and this week, a scathing report set the stage for consequences.

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Politics
2:42 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Rice Drops Out Of Race For Secretary Of State

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:06 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Asia
3:26 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

North Korean Rocket Launch Adds To Nuclear Fears

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 4:29 pm

The U.N. Security Council has condemned Tuesday's missile launch by North Korea. The North Koreans say their rocket put a satellite into space — but the move violated U.N. resolutions aimed at curbing North Korea's attempts to develop ballistic missile technology.

National Security
4:36 am
Tue December 11, 2012

U.S. Adds Syrian Rebel Group To Terror List

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 8:55 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Middle East
2:54 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

U.S., Russia Try To Find Common Ground On Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech at Dublin City University in Ireland on Thursday. She also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss Syria.
Kevin Lamarque AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:40 pm

As Syrian fighting intensifies in Syria, diplomatic efforts are also heating up.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the main international envoy to Syria were all in Dublin for an international gathering Thursday. The meeting came as Syria's opposition tries to get better organized to offer a real alternative to President Bashar Assad's regime.

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Africa
4:05 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Morocco Warns Of Growing Terrorist Threat In Mali

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 4:50 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.

The African nation of Mali is one of the many pressing topics facing the U.N. Security Council this month. After a coup in Mali back in March, an al-Qaida affiliate seized control of the northern part of the country, and the terrorist threat there is growing. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, U.S. officials aren't the only ones raising alarms.

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U.S.
3:00 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

U.N. Ambassador Rice Not The Typical Diplomat

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 6:24 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has had a tough week. At the U.N., Rice had to explain to the world why the Obama administration was part of a small minority voting against the Palestinian statehood bid. She's also been under attack as a potential secretary of state. And as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, her critics seem to be growing in number.

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Middle East
3:37 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Palestinians See U.N. Status Vote As A Game Changer

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 6:40 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There was celebration in Palestinian territories tonight after Palestinians won an upgrade in their status at the United Nations. The U.N. General Assembly voted today overwhelmingly in favor of making Palestine a non-member observer state. That's the same status as the Vatican. The vote was 138 in favor, nine against, with 41 abstentions. The U.S. and Israel argue this will make peace negotiations even more difficult. The Palestinians say it's simply a move toward a more level playing field. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Politics
5:43 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Rice's Efforts To Win Over Critics Fall Flat

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 7:18 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here in Washington, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice has been on Capitol Hill this week trying to drum up support for a nomination she doesn't yet have. She's hoping to become secretary of state, but so far it's not looking good. Rice is under fire from Republicans for what she said on Sunday talk shows, about the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya in September.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Israeli-Palestinian Coverage
2:38 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

As Rockets Fly In Gaza, U.S. Influence Seems To Wane

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 3:52 pm

The Obama Administration is hoping allies like Egypt and Turkey use their influence to persuade Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. But can the U.S. count on that kind of help, with a new government Egypt that doesn't see things the same way? The U.S. has shown no sign that it will pressure Israel to ease tensions. Officials have repeatedly said that Israel has the right to defend itself.

Politics
3:25 am
Sat November 17, 2012

Secretary Of State Speculation Turns Up Heat On Rice

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media at U.N. headquarters in April.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 11:41 am

President Obama hasn't even named his choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who plans to step down at the end of this term. But there's been a lot of heated rhetoric this week over one of the front-runners, Susan Rice.

Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke on behalf of the administration on five Sunday talk shows days after the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. At the time, she suggested the attack began as a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video. U.S. officials now say it was a terrorist attack.

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Politics
2:05 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Obama's Visit To Myanmar: Too Much, Too Soon?

A newspaper with a front-page photo of President Obama is displayed at a press house in downtown Yangon, Myanmar, on Thursday, ahead of Obama's visit.
Soe Than Win AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 6:15 pm

When President Obama sets off to Asia this weekend to highlight his so-called pivot to the region, he will make a bit of history: Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Myanmar.

The country, also known as Burma, was a pariah state for decades, ruled by a ruthless military dictatorship. That is changing, and the Obama administration has encouraged a dramatic reform process in the country. But it may be too early for a victory lap.

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World
2:57 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Obama Defends U.N. Envoy Amid Republican Attack

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is considered a leading candidate to become the next secretary of state. Leading Senate Republicans say they would seek to block her if she's nominated.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:16 pm

President Obama sounds like he's in for a fight over the woman who could be the next secretary of state. Republicans have been blasting U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for the way she characterized the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.

But the president came to her defense in his news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me," he told reporters.

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Africa
2:25 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Mali In Danger Of Turning Into Terrorist Safe Haven

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 4:02 pm

The U.S. and France are trying to figure out a way to make sure Northern Mali, which has been overrun by Islamists, doesn't turn into another Somalia or Yemen. But experts say there are no easy answers. Armed drones or special forces may not be enough. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Algeria last week to try to persuade its leaders to use their influence and military might to help rid Northern Mali of al-Qaida in the Maghreb.

Middle East
3:07 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Temporary Ceasefire May Be On The Way In Syria

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 3:53 pm

Syria's government has indicated it may accept a UN-Arab League proposal for a four-day ceasefire during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha. The United States is cautiously welcoming the news.

National Security
2:32 am
Wed October 10, 2012

House Panel To Examine Consulate Attack In Libya

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 4:48 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

A House committee is investigating last month's attack that killed the ambassador to Libya and three other Americans at a consulate in the city of Benghazi. And today, senior State Department officials will be on the receiving end of politically-charged questions. Republicans say that the Obama administration rejected repeated requests for more security.

NPR's Michele Kelemen has more.

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The Two-Way
4:50 am
Sun October 7, 2012

The U.N.'s 'Superhero Man': A Rocking Tribute To A Humanitarian

A Norwegian comedy duo managed something rare: to get concert goers cheering for a U.N. official.
YouTube.com

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Middle East
4:36 am
Fri October 5, 2012

U.S. Hopes U.N. Rebuke Will Deter Syrian Regime

The U.S. is backing its ally Turkey — saying it was right to respond by twice firing on Syrian military positions after a Syrian mortar shell killed five Turkish civilians. The U.S. hopes the Turkish action and strong U.N. and NATO statements will deter Syria from any further provocations.

NPR Story
5:43 am
Sat September 29, 2012

U.S. Increases Aid To Syria As Violence Rages On

Originally published on Sat September 29, 2012 1:17 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will give another $45 million in aid to Syria. That aid will mostly go toward humanitarian assistance, but it will also include communications equipment for the opposition in Syria. The news came at the end of a week of speeches at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where many raised alarms about the bloodshed in Syria. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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