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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Middle East
4:08 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Kerry Claims Progress In Gaza Cease-Fire Talks

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 10:36 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Middle East
4:14 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

In Cairo, First Steps Taken On Gnarled Path To Gaza Cease-Fire

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:17 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now to Cairo, where Secretary of State John Kerry and other diplomats are trying to bring an end to the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Kerry made a brief public statement today. He said the talks have been constructive but there's more work to do.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Middle East
5:25 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Kerry's Aim In Egypt: First, Get Israel And Hamas To Cease Fire

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 1:13 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The death toll continues to climb as Israel presses on with its ground operation in Gaza.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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World
4:20 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

In Trafficking Report, A Stark Warning About Thai Fishing Industry

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:08 pm

The U.S. state department has issued its annual report on human trafficking. According to the report, Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela have not been doing enough to combat modern slavery. And the report includes a warning to American importers of seafood: Clean up supply chains that include Thailand, where fish may be caught or processed using slave labor.

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Environment
4:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

White House Plans To Mark Off World's Largest Ocean Sanctuary

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama is once again exercising his executive authority for an environmental cause. Today he announced plans to create the world's largest marine preserve. His proposal came in a video shown at the State Department's "Our Ocean" conference. The White House says it will seek input from fisherman, scientists, and other experts before setting boundaries for the preserve. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story.

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Iraq
4:02 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

As Iraq Comes Apart At The Seams, Washington Weighs What To Do

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 7:43 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We now return to NPR's Michele Kelemen on how the White House is weighing its options in aiding Iraq and its Confrontation with ISIS extremist and finding limited options.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: For those experts who argued that the U.S. should have tried harder to reach an agreement with Iraq to leave some troops there rather than pull out completely in 2011 this is their nightmare scenario. Retired Army officer Rick Brennan did a study for the RAND Corporation that showed that Iraqi security forces just weren't ready.

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Middle East
11:46 am
Sun June 8, 2014

Syrian Crisis Splits Activists And Religious Groups Over Aid

Originally published on Sun June 8, 2014 6:34 pm

The Syrian civil war is now in its fourth year. Many are calling it the worst humanitarian situation in a generation. Faith groups and human rights activists are divided over what to do.

World
4:08 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Russia Takes Helm Of UN Security Council, Turns Focus On Ukraine

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 8:03 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Russia holds the presidency at the United Nations Security Council at the moment. That role rotates monthly. And this is shaping up to be a month of high diplomatic drama. Russia's ambassador is trying to keep the council focused on Ukraine. He's calling for humanitarian corridors to provide aid the east of the country. The U.S. and other council members accused Russia of hypocrisy. And they plan to focus on other humanitarian concerns like Syria. Here is NPR's Michele Kelemen.

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Middle East
4:05 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Frustrations Defeat Another Diplomat, As U.N. Syria Envoy Quits

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 7:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The conflict in Syria now in its 4th year, and a diplomatic solution seems as far off as ever. The international diplomat who's been trying to lead negotiations announced he's stepping down. It's a new sign of just how bad things are Syria. And as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, there doesn't seem to be a plan B.

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Parallels
1:43 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

The Nation That Elects The Most Women Is ...

Rwandan President Paul Kagame takes part in a conference on the role of women at the nation's Parliament in the capital, Kigali, in 2010. Women in Rwanda account for 64 percent of the lower house of Parliament — a higher percentage than in any other country.
Jason Straziuso AP

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 7:49 pm

As Rwanda began to rebuild itself from the ashes of the 1994 genocide, something unexpected happened: Women began playing a much more influential role on many fronts, including politics.

Traditions that had limited women previously were cast aside, and President Paul Kagame also actively pushed for women to be in more prominent positions.

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Mass Kidnapping
5:11 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

U.S. Offers Aid In Search For Nigerian Girls, But Is It Too Late?

Protesters march in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday in support of the girls kidnapped by members of the Islamist group Boko Haram.
Gary Cameron Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:59 am

Nigeria is offering a $300,000 reward for anyone who can find the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist group Boko Haram. The U.S. is also pitching in with hostage negotiators and intelligence experts. President Obama says the U.S. will do everything it can to provide assistance to Nigeria.

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World
5:34 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

In Ukraine, West's New Diplomatic Options May Be Few

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 9:04 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. Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. won't sit idly by while Russia fans the flames of instability in Ukraine. But so far, U.S. and European sanctions haven't changed Russia's calculations. Kerry blames Russia for failing to calm the crisis. Russia says Ukraine should stop its offensive against separatists in the east. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports that the diplomatic options during these tense days look limited.

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Middle East
4:04 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

In Rubble Of Middle East Peace Talks, Kerry Seeks Way Forward

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 8:32 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is a challenging time for Secretary of State John Kerry. His Middle East peace process has collapsed. He's also taking a lot of heat for suggesting that Israel could become an apartheid state if it doesn't negotiate with the Palestinians on two states for two peoples. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on how Kerry is trying to dig out.

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Asia
4:17 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Out Of North Korea, A Sexist Rant Against South's President

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:02 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

North Korea is offering its view of President Obama's trip to Asia and it isn't pretty. The official North Korean news agency used especially harsh language about South Korea's president who hosted Obama last week. By the way, we're about to hear more about that harsh language, so consider this a head's up if any children are listening. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.

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Middle East
7:51 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Obama: May Be Time For A Pause In Mideast Peace Talks

Originally published on Sat April 26, 2014 11:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The Obama administration's recent efforts to try to steer Israel and Palestine into - and the Palestinians into a lasting peace accord have failed. President Obama isn't giving up, but as he acknowledges, it may be time for a pause. He says Israelis and Palestinians have both taken unhelpful steps in recent weeks and neither side looks ready to compromise. This is a major setback for Secretary of State John Kerry, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Middle East
5:03 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Syria Is On Track To Meet Chemical Weapons Deadline

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 8:09 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This is about as close as we're going to get to good news out of Syria. The country is on track, we're told, to meet a deadline to give up its chemical weapons arsenal. The most dangerous chemicals in Syria's declared stockpile are supposed to be removed by Sunday, yet Syria now faces suspicion that it's using less toxic chemicals, possibly chlorine. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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World
5:45 am
Sat April 5, 2014

Taunt Or Miscalculation? Iran's Provocative Pick For U.N. Envoy

Iranian students climb over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution, Nov. 4, 1979. The students went on to seize the embassy staff, and hold 52 of them as hostages for 444 days.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 11:18 am

Iran's reported decision to name Hamid Aboutalebi as its ambassador to the United Nations has ignited anger in the U.S. That's because the diplomat was part of the student group that held Americans hostage in 1979. Now, dozens of lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to deny him a visa.

It's the latest sign of just how difficult it will be for Washington and Tehran to overcome decades of mistrust.

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Europe
6:38 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Russia Cautions Against A Return Of Cold War Rhetoric

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 1:04 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Ever since Russia annexed Crimea, NATO has been watching and waiting for Russia's next moves. This morning, NATO's military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said Russia has the forces it needs along Ukraine's border to carryout a full scale invasion of the eastern part of that country within a matter of days. Hoping to exert some pressure, NATO announced its suspending what it calls practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia.

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News
4:21 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Russia Votes To Annex Crimea, As The West Looks On

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 4:50 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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.

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Europe
6:47 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Yatsenyuk Appeals For International Aid For Ukraine

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 7:44 am

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.

Europe
5:04 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Ukraine's Interim Prime Minister To Visit White House

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 7:32 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Europe
4:22 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Pending Russian Response, Kerry's Travel Plans Are Up In The Air

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 7:59 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel.

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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News
4:35 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Kerry And Russian Diplomat Talk Crimea In Paris

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 8:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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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News
4:18 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Kerry's In Kiev And He Comes Bearing Gifts — One Billion Of Them

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 6:31 pm

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.

Parallels
4:58 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Syria On Track To Become World's Largest Source Of Refugees

Masses of refugees wait in line to receive food aid distributed in the Yarmouk camp on Jan. 31 in Damascus, Syria.
United Nation Relief and Works Agency/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:35 pm

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."

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Parallels
3:25 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Secretary Of State Kerry Says Ukraine Is Not A 'Cold War Story'

An anti-Yanukovych protester walks past a barricade in Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, in Kiev, Ukraine, on Wednesday.
Emilio Morenatti AP

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:49 am

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.

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Parallels
4:49 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

U.S. Has Little Leverage To Stop Political Violence In Venezuela

A demonstrator confronts riot policemen during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela's capital, on Feb. 22.
Raul Arboleda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

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.

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Europe
4:00 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Will Ukraine Do What It Takes To Unlock International Aid?

Ukrainians line up to get their money from a bank machine in the western city of Lviv last week. Clashes in Independence Square in Kiev and the resulting political turmoil caused a financial panic.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 8:55 pm

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.

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Europe
4:49 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

U.S., Allies Urge All Sides In Ukraine To Pull Back From Brink

Anti-government protesters throw stones during clashes with riot police in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the Ukraine's current unrest, on Wednesday. The deadly clashes have drawn sharp reactions from Washington and generated talk of possible European Union sanctions.
Efrem Lukatsky AP

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 10:38 pm

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.

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World
7:07 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

More Ambassador Posts Are Going To Political Appointees

TV producer Colleen Bell, shown here in a 2013 photo, was a big donor for President Obama before she was nominated to become ambassador to Hungary. Obama has chosen more political appointees than his predecessors.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 6:05 pm

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.

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