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
1:00 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

U.S. Faces Financial Troubles As Egypt Needs Aid

The U.S. has poured $28 billion of economic assistance into Egypt in recent decades. But now when Egypt's needs are the greatest, the U.S. and Europe are cash strapped. The Obama administration is trying to quickly reprogram aid to make sure it helps bolster democratic forces in the country and creates jobs to help ease the country's transition. The International Monetary Fund's chief Christine Lagarde says her door is open as well, but countries like Egypt need to ask for aid, which does come with some conditions. Meanwhile, leading members of Congress say the U.S.

Reporter's Notebook
6:00 am
Sat December 3, 2011

Clinton Tests Myanmar's Resolve Personally

Originally published on Sat December 3, 2011 1:31 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Clinton Visits Myanmar

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to see if the county's leaders are serious about political reform. Myanmar has long been under international sanctions because of the repressive nature of the military junta that held power until recently. But there are signs that a new civilian government is loosening the military's grip.

Asia
10:01 pm
Sun November 27, 2011

Clinton To Test Myanmar's Readiness For Reforms

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Asia this week will include stops in Myanmar and South Korea.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sets off for Asia Monday, and part of her trip will see her as the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Myanmar – formerly known as Burma.

Secretary Clinton says she's going to Myanmar to test the waters to see how committed the country's new leader is to reforms. She'll also meet with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is rejoining the political process in the country and who has been guiding U.S. policy, according to activist Aung Din.

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Africa
3:18 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Activists Support U.S. Move Against Uganda Rebels

Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, in a 2006 photo. The Obama administration has sent 100 troops to advise militaries in Uganda and neighboring countries that are battling Kony's forces.

STR AP

Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 4:50 am

Human rights groups don't usually cheer military forays. But they have offered loud applause for the Obama administration's decision to send 100 military advisers to several countries in Africa to help those nations fight one of the continent's most notorious rebel groups, the Lord's Resistance Army.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Palestinians Try Alternate U.N. Route, Worrying U.S.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) hands over a formal letter for Palestine to be admitted as a state to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon during the 66th U.N. General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 23. Now, the Palestinians are pursuing full membership in other U.N. agencies.

Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

With the Palestinian membership bid sitting — and likely going nowhere — in the U.N. Security Council, the Palestinians are trying another route to upgrade their international status.

They are applying for full membership in UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and may do the same with other specialized U.N. agencies.

And that has diplomats at the State Department increasingly concerned about what impact this may have on the U.S. position in the U.N. system.

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Middle East
6:12 am
Sat October 15, 2011

U.S., Europe Shield Syrian Dissidents Abroad

Originally published on Sat October 15, 2011 1:28 pm

While much of the focus this past week has been on an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., diplomats and law enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe also began to take aim at Syria for an alleged conspiracy to intimidate dissidents abroad.

Syrian-American Mohamad Soueid was indicted in the U.S. on charges he passed information about dissidents back to the country's intelligence services.

On Monday, a judge is set to decide whether he should remain in prison pending his trial.

An Agent Of The Syrian Government?

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Africa
12:32 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Famine-Stricken Somalia Suffers From Aid Drought

Humanitarian groups are increasingly worried about the looming budget cuts in U.S. foreign assistance. They argue that lives are at stake, literally, in places like the Horn of Africa, which is suffering its worst drought in decades.

Raising public and private money for that has been a challenge in the current economic environment.

Hollywood stars and politicians have resorted to using the F word — in this case Famine — to get the attention of Americans about the humanitarian emergency in Somalia.

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Middle East
3:16 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Syrian Exiles Fear Long Reach Of Secret Police

Protesters shout slogans against the Syrian government in front of the White House in July. A new report from Amnesty International documents more than 30 cases of Syrian activists living overseas whose activities have been monitored and whose families in Syria have been threatened.

Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 3, 2011 3:51 pm

Syrian exiles have been harassed and monitored at anti-government protests abroad, and their families back home have been threatened, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

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Middle East
12:50 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Americans Seek Answers As New Egypt Emerges

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr during a joint press conference in Washington on Wednesday. Amr sought to assure the U.S. that Egypt is moving toward democracy.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

As Egypt tries to figure out a path forward following its revolution, the country's foreign minister was in Washington this week attempting to reassure the Obama administration that all is going well.

For the Americans, the two big issues are the status of Egypt's elections and the state of Egypt's relations with Israel. There are unanswered questions on both fronts.

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Europe
2:26 am
Wed September 28, 2011

Will U.S.-Russia Reset Survive A Putin Presidency?

Russia's leading political party, United Russia, called for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (left) and and President Dmitry Medvedev to effectively switch jobs when Russia holds elections next year. Putin previously served as president from 1999-2008.
Yekaterina Shtukina AP

Originally published on Wed September 28, 2011 11:59 am

Vladimir Putin's planned run for the presidency next year comes as no surprise to U.S. policymakers. But it may make their lives more complicated and signal a return to more troubled times in U.S.-Russian relations.

Russia's dominant political party, United Russia, nominated Putin as its presidential candidate on Saturday. That virtually assures him that he will return to his old job, which he held from 1999 to 2008. The current president, Dmitry Medvedev, will be the candidate to replace Putin as prime minister.

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Africa
2:44 am
Sun September 25, 2011

South Sudan Seeks U.N. Help For 'Difficult Journey'

When President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he held up the example of South Sudan as the right way to join the world body — through a peace process and an independence vote.

"One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt," he said, "but the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination."

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Conflict In Libya
1:54 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

President Obama Praises Libya's Political Transition

President Obama meets with Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, chairman of the Libyan Transitional National Council, at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday.
Allan Tannenbaum-Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 20, 2011 5:20 pm

President Obama met Libya's interim leader Tuesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and held up the country as a model of what the U.N. can do to protect civilians from atrocities.

Obama also pledged continued support and encouraged Libya's new leaders to keep their promises to forge a just, democratic society.

Libyan rebels have yet to find ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi and fighting continues in the country. Still, Obama went to the meeting with a hopeful message.

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Middle East
2:47 am
Mon September 19, 2011

Obama Pressured At Home To Do More For Israel

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 11:35 am

Israel's most vocal supporters in the U.S. have long complained that the United Nations is a bastion of anti-Israeli sentiment, and this year's General Assembly debate could be worse than ever.

Palestinians are seeking U.N. membership as a state even though there's no peace deal with Israel. Israel is also under diplomatic pressure from regional powers Turkey and Egypt.

Gabriela Shalev was Israel's ambassador to the United Nations until last year, and as world leaders start gathering for this high-level General Assembly debate, she's sounding quite nervous.

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World
3:29 am
Sat September 17, 2011

U.S. Underwhelmed With Emerging Powers At U.N.

It's the time of year when world leaders converge at the United Nations headquarters in New York. And this year, there will be a lot of talk about multilateral diplomacy — a priority for the Obama administration since it came to office.

Obama's team has courted the world's rising powers, even publicly backing India's hopes to one day be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. But now that India, along with South Africa and Brazil, have rotating seats on the council, U.S. officials and many human rights activists complain they're not living up to expectations.

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Middle East
2:38 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

Palestinian Plan Puts U.S. In A Bind

A Palestinian flag is raised in front of European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday. The Palestinians are expected to seek statehood at the United Nations next week.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration is scrambling to head off what it fears will be a diplomatic train wreck at the United Nations next week.

After years of gridlock in Mideast negotiations, the Palestinians plan to seek U.N. membership as a state on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war. That territory includes the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and the plan would go through the Security Council, where the U.S. has already promised to use its veto.

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Middle East
1:00 pm
Fri September 2, 2011

U.N. Review Of Israeli Flotilla Raid Reopens Wounds

The U.N.'s review of an Israeli commando raid on a Turkish flotilla last year was intended to help resolve the matter, but its release Friday only seemed to reopen the wound.

While Israel was pleased that the panel found its blockade of Gaza legitimate, Turkey has expelled Israel's ambassador and downgraded relations.

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Middle East
1:27 pm
Thu August 25, 2011

Iranian Exile Group Lobbies To Get Off Terrorist List

Supporters of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, an Iranian exile group, demonstrate in front of the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands, on Aug. 4, 2009. The U.S. State Department is reviewing the group's status on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
Valerie Kuypers AFP/Getty Images

An Iranian exile group is ramping up its lobbying campaign to get off a U.S. terrorist list, and the issue has sparked a fierce debate among foreign policy experts about the wisdom of such a move.

Supporters of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq see it as a potentially useful group in countering Iran. It has provided the U.S. information about Iran's nuclear program, for instance. Others see it as a dangerous cult and warn that taking it off the Foreign Terrorist Organization list would undercut peaceful Iranian dissidents, who want nothing to do with the MEK.

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Africa
2:57 pm
Tue August 23, 2011

A New Obstacle To Normal Relations For Sudan, U.S.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir speaks of the capital Khartoum on July 12. Sudan says it should be taken off the U.S. terrorism list, but Washington says it is concerned about new fighting in the south of the country.
Ashraf Shazly AFP/Getty Images

When Sudan allowed South Sudan to become an independent nation last month, it hoped this would put an end to years of friction with the United States.

More specifically, Sudan desperately wanted to be removed from Washington's list of state sponsors of terrorism and get out from under the many sanctions that come along with that designation.

But now the U.S. and the United Nations are raising concerns about fighting, and possible atrocities, near the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

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U.S.
3:36 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Hillary Clinton: U.S. Diplomacy Is Stretched Thin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the bruising budget battles in Washington are "casting a pall" over US diplomacy abroad and may hurt America's ability to influence events at a crucial moment in the Middle East.

Clinton joined Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the National Defense University in Washington on Tuesday to appeal to Congress to come up with a budget deal that doesn't undercut U.S. national security interests.

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World
9:12 pm
Sat August 13, 2011

Famine In Somalia Also Taking Toll On Al-Shabaab

Displaced Somalis waits in a queue for food-aid rations on August 11, 2011 at an IDP camp in Mogadishu. The United Nations has officially declared famine in Somalia for the first time this century.
MUSTAFA ABDI AFP/Getty Images

How can you feed starving people without feeding an insurgency as well? That is one of the challenges the Obama administration faces in providing aid to Somalia.

As the U.S. and other donors scramble to help Somalis survive a famine, some experts see an opportunity of sorts. The drought, they say, seems to be starving the Islamist militia group al-Shabaab of resources, limiting its ability to wreak havoc in Somalia.

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