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
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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Middle East
4:30 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Kerry Weighs Wildcard In Mideast Talks: Freedom For Israeli Spy

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 7:58 pm

The U.S. might release a notorious Israeli spy in order to keep peace talks with the Palestinians going — but the idea faces backlash both in the U.S. and abroad.

Europe
5:06 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Ukraine Must Make Hard Choices To Fix Its Economy

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 12:12 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Western countries are taking a two-fold approach to the Ukraine crisis: isolate Russia and help Ukraine overcome massive economic challenges. The International Monetary Fund has a bailout package in the works. It requires Ukraine to carry out difficult reforms. Ukraine has fallen short on such conditions in the past but the stakes are higher now.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Middle East
5:05 am
Thu March 27, 2014

U.S.-Saudi Relations Strain Over Syria And Iran

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 12:18 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

President Obama leaves Rome tomorrow for Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where he'll be reassuring Saudi officials that the U.S. is committed to security in the Persian Gulf region.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports U.S.-Saudi relations have been strained over many regional issues, from Syria and Egypt to diplomacy on Iran.

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Europe
4:31 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Tumult In Crimea Has Some Fearing A Cold War Redux

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 7:59 pm

Russia's annexation of Crimea has troubled its relations with the U.S. As Russia and the U.S. begin to trade sanctions in retaliation, analysts wonder if this spells a renewal of Cold War rivalry.

News
4:03 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
4:29 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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Europe
5:02 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Before Paris Stop, Kerry Talks To Protesters In Kiev

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 9:17 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

The stage is set today for what could be a very tense meeting in Paris between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

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News
4:05 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
5:27 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
4:08 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
4:20 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
4:52 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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