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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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

It is not often that a United Nations official gets the crowds roaring. But a Norwegian comedy duo managed to get concert goers cheering for Jan Egeland in this video posted on YouTube, describing Egeland as "a United Nations superhero man" and "a peacekeeping machine":

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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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Middle East
2:53 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Netanyahu Renews Calls For 'Clear Red Line' On Iran

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 9:49 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. Israel's prime minister came to New York today to warn the world about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: The hour is getting late, very late.

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NPR Story
2:50 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Clinton: Al-Qaida May Be Linked To Libya Attack

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 3:24 am

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has suggested a connection between al-Qaida in North Africa and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. She did not give any further details on what role the al-Qaida affiliate may have played in the attack

Middle East
2:46 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Ahmadinejad Rails Against Israel In U.N. Speech

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 9:46 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. Some called it awkward timing, others called it an outrage. Today, as Jews mark the high holy day of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the president of Iran attacked Israel in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. His message came as no surprise. The U.S. stayed away, complaining about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repulsive slurs.

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World
3:06 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Amid Protests, Iran's President To Address U.N.

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 9:45 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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Around the Nation
2:47 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Obama Calls For Tolerance At U.N. General Assembly

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 2:32 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. President Obama made an impassioned plea for understanding today, on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.

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World
2:49 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Clinton Kicks off A Busy Week Of Diplomacy

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 10:00 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

President Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly today, at a time when U.S. embassies and consulates have been the target of protests across the Muslim world. Mr. Obama's aides say he will use this speech to again condemn the anti-Islam video that offended many Muslims.

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Around the Nation
3:36 am
Sun September 23, 2012

For Myanmar Activist, A Welcome 40 Years In Waiting

Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi is presented with a U.S. Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony at the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 23, 2012 10:43 am

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has made a remarkable transition from a detained human rights dissident to a member of Myanmar's parliament.

In her first trip to the U.S. in 40 years, Suu Kyi talked a lot about how she's learning to compromise with the former military men who kept her under house arrest for years.

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National Security
3:30 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

U.S. Removes Iranian Group From Terrorism List

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 4:53 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. It is a move sure to anger Iran. The Obama administration has decided to take an Iranian resistance group known as the MEK off a terrorism list. MEK stands for Mujahadin-e-Khalq. The group has been lobbying for this delisting for years and recently the group won a U.S. court case. The court ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a decision on the MEK by October 1. NPR's Michele Kelemen explains.

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Middle East
3:33 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Mideast Violence Prompts Calls For New U.S. Policy

Egyptians destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Sept. 11, during a protest over the film that insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
Mohamed Abd El Ghany Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 4:05 pm

The protests and violence aimed at U.S. interests in the Middle East have set off a domestic debate about what the U.S. could or should do to relate to new political movements in the region. The Obama administration says it will continue to engage the region. The campaign of Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, says the U.S. needs to do more to lead.

But there are others who say that both parties have it wrong, and that U.S. policies from both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed.

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Asia
3:17 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi Makes First U.S. Trip In Decades

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:09 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi is on a landmark trip to the United States, her first in four decades. She is thanking Americans for being friends of the democracy movement in her homeland, Myanmar, also known as Burma. Now, she says, it's time for the U.S. to be friends with the whole country and consider easing sanctions.

The Nobel laureate made her case after a meeting at the State Department, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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