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
7:23 am
Sat September 7, 2013

Russia To U.S.: Follow U.N. Rules On Syria

Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 1:01 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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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Middle East
5:16 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Critics Say U.S. Strikes Would Delay Syrian Transitional Talks

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 6:58 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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.

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Middle East
4:55 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Kerry: Syria's Chemical Weapons Use A Test Of American Resolve

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 7:01 pm

Secretary of State John Kerry says there is clear evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its citizens. He laid out that evidence at a briefing at the State Department, and pledged a "tailored and limited" US response to hold the Assad regime accountable.

Middle East
4:51 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

U.K. Position Makes Syria Strike More Complicated For U.S.

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 6:01 pm

A UN weapons inspection team is due to leave Syria on Saturday, but it will take time for them to review all of the material they've gathered about an alleged chemical weapons attack. The British government now says it will wait to hear the report before taking any military action to punish Bashar al-Assad's regime. That leaves the U.S. in an awkward position. It has written off the UN route because of Russia's opposition to any action.

Middle East
4:52 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

U.N. Security Council The Site Of A Showdown Over Syria

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 6:39 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Middle East
4:59 am
Wed August 28, 2013

U.S. Insists It's Committed To Diplomacy In Syrian Conflict

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 12:33 pm

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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Middle East
5:29 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

U.S. Builds Its Case For Intervening In Syria

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 6:31 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Arab League says those behind last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria must face justice. The call came at an emergency meeting in Cairo, one day after the U.S. announced it has little doubt that Bashar al-Assad's regime was responsible for gassing civilians. The Obama administration says it has not yet decided whether to strike Syria but is consulting with allies, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Middle East
4:46 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Kerry: Syria Has To Be Held Accountable For Chemical Weapons

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 5:30 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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Middle East
5:38 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Russia Defends Syria Amid Chemical Weapons Allegations

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 6:38 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The latest reports of chemical weapon attacks in Syria set off a tense debate in the United Nation Security Council. It met this afternoon in an urgent session. The U.N. has long been divided over how to deal with Syria. The United States and its partners are calling for a full investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons, but Russia is casting doubts on the allegations and is defending the Syrian government's position.

NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story.

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Middle East
5:29 am
Sun August 18, 2013

Obama Struggles To Find Effective Egypt Policy

President Obama delivers a statement on Egypt at his vacation home on Martha's Vineyard on Thursday.
Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:00 pm

The Obama administration is in a difficult situation with its Egypt policy.

President Obama, who often talks about free speech and human rights, has cancelled joint military exercises with Egypt but has stopped short of cutting off aid to the Egyptian military. As the violence continues in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, all sides seem unhappy with the U.S. approach.

In 2009, on his first trip to the Middle East as president, in the same year he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama spoke of a new approach to relations with the Islamic world.

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NPR Story
5:27 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Obama Condemns Crackdown In Egypt

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 6:29 am

President Obama is canceling joint military exercises with Egypt and condemning the violence that is taking place there. But the administration has stopped short of suspending aid to the Egyptian military. The U.S. faces a policy conundrum in Egypt, which has long played a key role in regional stability.

Africa
5:27 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Egypt's Military-Backed Government Condemned For Crackdown

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 8:40 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Around the world, there is sharp reaction to the crackdown in Cairo. In Egypt, there is a month-long state of emergency and a nightly curfew. Egyptian riot police moved against supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in the early hours today. Armored vehicles, helicopters and bulldozers moved on the camps to clear protesters out of two encampments in the capital city. Witnesses describe it as a bloodbath.

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Middle East
5:17 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Syrian Refugee Camp Grows To The Size Of A Small City

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 7:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Certainly one big focus for John Kerry and the Obama administration is the conflict in Syria which continues to rage on. Diplomatic efforts to solve it remain at a stalemate. And as the fighting goes on, refugee camps have become difficult to manage. Getting aid into the country is an even bigger challenge.

NPR's Michele Kelemen contacted several aid groups to see how they're trying to reach millions of Syrians in need.

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National Security
5:09 am
Sat August 10, 2013

Kerry, Hagel Aim To Ease U.S.-Russian Tensions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, walk to their news conference at the Russian Embassy in Washington on Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 7:43 am

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with their Russian counterparts for talks in Washington on Friday, aiming to repair strained relations with Moscow.

President Obama snubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday when he called off plans to go to Moscow next month for a one-on-one summit. He was reacting to Russia's offer of temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

But on Friday, the diplomats seemed eager to show that the dispute is not some new sort of cold war.

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Europe
4:31 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Cancellation Of Putin Meeting Highlights U.S.-Russia Tensions

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 7:21 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

President Obama has canceled a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The decision comes not long after Russia announced it was granting temporary asylum to Edward Snowden. He faces charges in the U.S. that he leaked secret documents on government surveillance programs. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, today's reversal is just the latest sign that U.S.-Russia relations are not in a good place.

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World
4:47 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Ambassadors Question Decision To Close Mideast Embassies

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 6:24 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Nineteen U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa will stay closed for the rest of the week. The State Department says that it's operating out of an abundance of caution amid intelligence reports about the possibility of terrorist attacks. And, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, it's not clear when the facilities will reopen.

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National Security
11:33 am
Sun August 4, 2013

Snowden Case Illustrates Decline In U.S.-Russia Relations

President Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Northern Ireland in June.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 6:38 pm

U.S.-Russia relations hit a new low this week, when Moscow ignored U.S. requests and gave temporary asylum to a man who leaked classified documents on U.S. government surveillance programs.

Many in Congress are complaining that the Edward Snowden case is just the latest example of how the Kremlin is thumbing its nose at the White House.

The Obama administration famously reset relations with Russia when Dmitry Medvedev was president. But now that Russian President Vladimir Putin is back in the Kremlin, it seems to be having a more difficult time.

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NPR Story
4:13 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

U.S. State Department Cautiously On Alert

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 5:19 pm

U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world will be closed on Sunday and possible for longer. The State Department says it is taking the step "out of an abundance of caution" and wouldn't say if they are receiving direct threats. Members of Congress say there are concerns about an al-Qaida-linked attack. Last year, the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed in Benghazi, along with three other Americans. At that time, there were also violent protests at U.S. embassies in Cairo and Tunisia.

Middle East
5:08 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Kerry Relaunches Mideast Peace Talks Amid Skepticism

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:24 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This evening, after a three-year hiatus, Secretary of State John Kerry is re-launching Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Kerry has tapped a longtime expert on the region, Martin Indyk of The Brookings Institution, to be the day-to-day point person on negotiations. Many are skeptical that this renewed effort will work. But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Secretary Kerry has made it a top priority.

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Middle East
5:05 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Taliban Attack Survivor Speaks At U.N. On Her 16th Birthday

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 6:19 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. A young Pakistani girl who survived a Taliban attack last year was at the United Nations today, appealing for education for all children. It was the first public speech by Malala Yousafzai since the Taliban tried to kill her near her school in Pakistan's Swat Valley last year. Today also happens to be her 16th birthday, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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