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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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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Middle East
4:05 am
Sat September 15, 2012

U.S., Israel Divided Over 'Red Line' For Iran

President Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in March. Netanyahu and the Obama administration clashed openly this week over the issue of Iran's nuclear program.
Amos Ben Gershom GPO via Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 6:27 am

The Obama administration often talks about its strong bonds with Israel, but relations between the two leaders don't look that way at all.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration openly clashed over Iran this week. The White House also announced that President Obama would not have time to meet Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister is in the U.S. later this month.

The two men did have a lengthy phone conversation, but some say what they really need is a marriage counselor.

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Middle East
2:24 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Inciting Outrage, Film Spurs Delicate U.S. Response

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the State Department in Washington Wednesday, Sept. 12 on the recent deaths of Americans in Libya.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 9:43 am

As U.S. embassies and consulates face protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islamic film, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is walking a fine line. She is distancing herself and the State Department from the video that has sparked anger among Muslims, but stressed the US commitment to free speech.

"To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible," she said Thursday in Washington, D.C. "It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."

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Africa
3:58 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

U.S. Sends Marines To Libya After Consulate Attack

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We turn now to Washington for more reaction to this brazen attack. The Obama administration is sending a Marine anti-terrorism unit to bolster security in Libya. It's also taking precautions elsewhere. The stepped up security comes as the State Department mourns its losses. NPR's Michele Kelemen has that story.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Shock and sadness hovered over the State Department as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of the devastating losses of four foreign service personnel.

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Asia
3:05 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Candidates Criticize China; Presidents Show Caution

For more than three decades, presidential candidates have talked tough about China during the campaign season, but opted for more moderate policies as president. Republican nominee Mitt Romney, shown speaking in Colorado in July, accuses China of manipulating its currency in order to export its goods cheaply to the US.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 4:26 pm

It has become a staple of U.S. presidential campaigns: Candidates talk about getting tough with China, only to adopt much more moderate positions once they are in office.

When Ronald Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter in 1980, the challenger often blasted the incumbent for, in his words, "abandoning" Taiwan to establish diplomatic relations with China.

"There will be no more abandonment of friends and allies by the United States of America and I want very much to send that message," Reagan said.

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Middle East
1:25 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Next U.S. President Faces A Middle East 'In Turmoil'

A rebel fighter fled after attacking a tank with a rocket-propelled grenade last week in Aleppo, Syria. The escalating Syrian conflict is among several issues in the Middle East that the next U.S. president must confront.
Manu Brabo AP

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 6:25 am

Foreign policy has not been a major focus of this election campaign, but whoever wins in November will have a messy inbox when it comes to the delicate tangle of issues in the Middle East.

For decades, the U.S. relied on authoritarian regimes to provide stability in the region. Now, it must deal with a new government in Egypt, an intensifying conflict in Syria, nervous allies in the Persian Gulf — and a major decision about Iran.

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World
4:44 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Often Isolated, Iran Hosts Huge International Summit

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hold talks at the Iranian president's office in Tehran on Wednesday.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. and other Western countries are often trying to isolate Iran, but this week the country is in the international spotlight as it hosts a summit of 120 nonaligned nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Kim-moon decided to go, ignoring the advice of Israel and the U.S. He promised to deliver a tough message, but others are skeptical, arguing that his visit plays into the hands of the Iranians and to U.N. detractors in Washington.

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