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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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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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.

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.

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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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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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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.

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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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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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.

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.

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.

The U.S. and its allies await details of Russia's proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons arsenal under UN supervision. Meanwhile, senior Obama administration officials are continuing to press for congressional approval of a potential military strike against the Bashar al-Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons in August.

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We begin this hour with an unexpected twist in the story of Syria and its alleged use of chemical weapons. Russia is now urging Syria to give up its stockpile to avoid a U.S. military strike. Though the offer appears to be in response to a comment this morning from the secretary of state, NPR's Michele Kelemen reports the U.S. is skeptical.

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Russian officials warn the U.S. that it would be illegal to launch a military strike against Syria without getting U.N. approval. The Obama administration says there's just no chance of that because Russia has blocked the Security Council from anything action on Syria for the past two and a half years. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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The objective of an American strike on Syria appears to be evolving. Days ago, White House officials insisted their goal was to respond to the use of chemical weapons, not to intervene in Syria's civil war. But it's always been quietly understood that doing one thing could easily affect the other, and that has become more explicit in recent days.

Obama administration officials are making their case for action in Syria, with several Cabinet officials appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Secretary of State John Kerry argues that the U.S. needs to hold Bashar Assad's government accountable for the use of chemical weapons.

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